Early voting begins Monday in Illinois

October 22, 2012

The Associated Press and Caroline O'Donovan

(WBEZ/Caroline O'Donovan)
Cook County Clerk David Orr casts his vote at the 42nd Ward polling location.

Election officials in Chicago say the number of voters casting ballots before the election could surpass 2008's historic numbers.

As of noon on Monday, six thousand Chicago residents had already cast their votes.

Early voting in Illinois began Monday and runs through Nov. 3, which is later than previous years. Also, the law now says anyone can vote by mail. In the last presidential election, voters needed a reason to do so. Both early votes as well as mailed ballots will not be counted until polls close on November 6.

Chicago Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal predicts there will be at least as many early votes this year as four years ago, if not more. A Chicago Board of Elections representative said it should be clear by October 29th whether early voting this year will break 2008’s record.

Neal and Cook County Clerk David Orr both voted at one of Chicago’s fifty early voting places this morning. They urged voters to double check their ward’s location, as they are usually different from the election day locations. In addition, they noted that city residents cannot vote at suburban Cook County locations, and vice versa.

In 2008, roughly 260,000 people voted early in Chicago. In suburban Cook County, it was roughly 226, 000.

However, the number of overall voters is down. Election officials say 2008 was a historic year which will be hard to match. Early voter Darnell Moore says the level of excitement is just not the same. “ You don’t have the conversation on the street, at the office, that you had. You don’t even see the number of bumper stickers,” Moore said, “You don’t see what you saw four years ago - Is it apathy? It’s troubling. It’s troubling. Because these are dire times.”

Chairman Neal said it’s important to note that the city has also seen a reduction in its population, leading to the lower registration figure. David Orr said early voting is aimed at increasing  participation, because it makes it easier for people with personal and work conflicts to schedule a time to vote. “We’re going to be very busy on that last Friday and Saturday before the election,” he said.

The Illinois Board of Elections early voting locations: http://www.elections.il.gov/VotingInformation/EarlyVotingLocations.aspx