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Early Voting expands to all 50 wards and Cook County

Early Voting in Chicago this week expanded to all 50 wards and Cook County as the June 28 Primary nears.

Residents began receiving their voter registration cards and mail-in ballots in the mail as political candidates step up their campaigns in the final two weeks of the Primary election.

Voters are casting their ballots to decide several local, state and Congressional races. Former Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin seeks to unseat Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Cook County Tax Assessor Fritz Kaegi faces Democrat challenger Kari Steele, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). Alderman David Moore (17th) seeks to replace outgoing Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, but he faces City Clerk Anna Valencia and Alexi Giannoulias. In the race for Illinois’ 1st Congressional District, 20 candidates seek the Democrat nomination to replace longtime Congressman Bobby Rush.

In the Democrat race for U.S. Senator, incumbent Tammy Duckworth is running unopposed as she seeks a second term. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough are running unopposed.

There are also many judicial races that involve judges seeking retention.

Voters began casting their ballots May 31 when the Chicago Board of Elections opened a voting supersite with 50 touchscreens in the Loop. With gas prices still rising, voters no longer have to travel downtown during Early Voting. They can now cast their ballots in their wards.

Early Voting in all 50 wards takes place weekdays, from 9.a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A voter may choose to vote at any Early Voting site, no matter where they live within Chicago. Secure drop boxes for Vote by Mail ballots and registration services are available at every Early Voting site. Two forms of ID, one of which shows the voter’s current address, are needed to register for the first time or to file a name change or an address update.

Cook County also has 50 Early Voting sites throughout the suburbs. On Tuesday, June 14, Yarborough held a press conference at Union Station to announce the opening of a new Early Voting site in the suburbs. Yarborough also announced a new “Trusted Source” webpage to combat harmful election misinformation by providing voters with detailed facts on election operations.

Meanwhile, Chicago election officials are still searching for new voting sites after it announced that 73 precincts will not be available before the June 28 Primary. Approximately 120,000

voters are affected by the shortage. Election officials said since the pandemic, numerous buildings and restaurants have decided not to serve again as polling sites because of hassle of operating one.

Chicago has more than 2,000 precincts spread across 50 wards.

In Chicago’s 18 Black wards, a total of 8 precincts will not be available by election day. The largest unavailable precinct is in Alderman Pat Dowell’s 3rd ward. That is Precinct 25 in the South Loop, which is the third largest of 41 polling places with nearly 1,500 registered voters.

The ward that’s most affected is Alderman Brendan Reilly’s 42nd ward, where nine precincts won’t be available by June 28. There were nearly 10,000 registered voters among those precincts in 2020. Voter turnout at most of those precincts were near or over 85 percent in the 2020 General Election.

On Friday, June 3, an order by the Cook County allows the Elections Board to contact residents in the 73 precincts to inform them about their voting options, including using their Ward Early Vote sites open on Election Day and voting by mail.

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