Chicago Gets High Early Voting Turnout
By John Byrne
Chicago voters turned out in large numbers for the first two days of early voting ahead of the mayoral runoff, and suburban voters in the upcoming election will get newly designed stickers to show everybody they cast ballots, election officials announced.
Early voting ahead of the April 7 election, headlined in Chicago by the race between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, kicked off this week. On Monday and Tuesday, a total of 21,012 ballots were cast, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, the highest number in the first two days of early voting for a municipal election.
That compares with 11,638 early ballots in the first two days before the February city election and 8,552 in the first two days before the February 2011 election. There were 1,441 early ballots cast in the first two days of early voting ahead of the 2007 city election, the first city election with early voting, according to the election board.
Both the Emanuel and Garcia campaigns are pushing hard to identify their supporters and get them to cast ballots before April 7, either through in-person early voting or mail-in ballots, rather than waiting until Election Day and possibly getting sidetracked by poor weather or busy schedules. In the first round of city voting, about 34 percent of registered Chicago voters cast ballots.
In suburban Cook County, meanwhile, Clerk David Orr announced a new design for the "I Voted!" stickers people get as they leave the polls.
With suburban elections expected to have "historically low turnout," Orr said in a news release that the new stickers could help bring attention to the races for village trustees, aldermen, park district boards, school boards and other positions.
The clerk's office last designed a new "I Voted!" sticker for suburban Cook County voters in 2002, according to Orr.
In Chicago, voters can cast ballots early at 51 locations for the runoff election. In addition to the mayoral race, there are 18 aldermanic runoffs.
All the Chicago early voting sites are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday until April 4, plus 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, according to the city election board. There's one location in each of the 50 wards, plus an additional downtown spot at the Board of Election Commissioners office, 69 W. Washington St. Voters can cast ballots at any of the sites, regardless of their home addresses. For a full list of the locations, go to chicagoelections.com.
In the suburbs, there are 42 early voting sites for Cook County consolidated elections. There are 699 races around suburban Cook County, according to Orr's office.
Suburban voters can also cast ballots early at Orr's Washington Street office downtown. Most suburban locations also are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, though county courthouses in the suburbs will be open only on weekdays, Orr said.
In addition, seven suburban sites will be open for early voting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Sunday. For a full list of suburban sites, visit cookcountyclerk.com.
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