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2012 election early voting to start next week

Chicago Election Board officials announced Wednesday that voters will begin receiving mail detailing their nearest polling locations.

Early voters can cast their ballots starting on October 22 until November 3 at any of Chicago's 51 polling stations, officials said. Illinois voters will receive two paper ballots: One page dedicated to an amendment to the state Constitution and the other listing candidates.

“Wherever you are, whatever is most convenient, please use that early voting site,” said city Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal in a news conference.

"You can certainly wait until Election Day if you need to, if you prefer to vote on Election Day or if you haven't made up your mind yet. But if you're ready to vote, please don't wait till the last minute...go ahead and vote early." 

He added that the voter guide will only list the polling location closest to a voter's home address.  Neal said voters can also find their  November 6 polling place by texting their simplified home address to 312-361-8846.

The Election Board system will reply with the location of the nearest polling station, officials said in a statement.

Election Board officials added that unregistered voters can still register and cast their ballots at the agency's downtown Chicago headquarters.

Chicagoan Ben Parker voted Wednesday after registering at this location. He said he will probably continue voting early, mainly because his political beliefs are "pretty firmly established."

"I don't see anything coming up that would make me really be truly undecided to the last day.  If you're not in [that] situation [...] why not just come in and vote whenever, avoid the huge lines on Election Day," he said, adding that it took him "five minutes" to vote.

About 260,000 people cast their ballots early in the 2008 election, according to Neal—nearly a fourth of all voters in Chicago. He said he expects similarly high turnout from early voters because of interest sparked by this year's tight presidential race.

"All in all, I think you'll see that the number of early votes in comparison to the total votes cast in the election is going to be a large percentage," Neal said.

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