Early Voting for the March 20 Gubernatorial Primary Election began on Monday, with Cook County Clerk David Orr and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners kicking it off with an announcement and demonstration of early voting at the city’s Early Voting Loop “Super Site.”
Orr and Marisel Hernandez, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners Chairwoman, spoke of the importance of early voting and detailed how voters can vote before Election Day.
Suburban Cook County voters have 53 sites to choose from to vote early – 10 more than were open for the 2016 Presidential Primary Election. The sites – including those at suburban courthouses – are all open seven days a week, up to the day before Election Day.
“Early voting has become more popular with every election, and my office has continually worked to make the experience even better for suburban Cook County voters,” Orr said.
Orr noted one new feature introduced by the Clerk’s office to make the Early Voting experience quicker and easier for voters is a Wait Time Viewer on the Clerk’s website.
Viewable either on desktop computers or mobile devices, the Wait Time Viewer provides visitors to the page an interactive map that will show the wait time – if any – at each of suburban Cook County’s Early Voting sites. Since voters can cast their ballots at any Early Voting site, they can, for instance, choose another nearby site if the wait is too long at the one closest to their home or work. The site updates every 20 minutes.
As Orr pointed out, early voting’s popularity has steadily increased with every election since the first time it was implemented in Illinois a decade ago. In the 2014 Gubernatorial Primary, 34,035 voters – or 14.7 percent of all who voted – took advantage of early voting. That was up from the 9.5 percent of Primary Election voters who voted early in-person for the 2010 Primary.
Orr led the fight for early voting in Illinois, resulting in its passage in the state legislature in 2005. Prior to 2006, when early voting went into effect in Illinois, voters had to provide an excuse to vote before election day, such as they were physically incapacitated or they were out of the country.
Voters who want to avoid the possibility of lines at the polling place on Election Day can also vote from the comfort of their homes, via Vote by Mail. Voters can apply online for a Vote by Mail ballot. The ballot must be returned to the Clerk’s Office by Election Day. Mail ballots postmarked by Election Day will be accepted by the Clerk’s Office up to 14 days after the election.
Cook County residents who missed the voter registration deadline for this election can still register, at any of the early voting sites. During this grace period, voters not yet registered must provide two forms of identification to register, and they must vote in person at the time that they register.
Suburban Cook County voters can find a map and list of the Early Voting locations and their hours at www.cookcountyclerk.com/earlyvoting.
The early voting press conference was broadcast live on the Clerk’s Facebook page.