Early Voting for the November 6 Gubernatorial Election began on Monday, with the Cook County Clerk’s office and the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners kicking it off at the city’s Early Voting Loop “Super Site.”
Cook County Clerk’s Office Director of Elections Noah Praetz and Marisel Hernandez, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners Chairwoman, spoke of the popularity and 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. The sites – including those at suburban courthouses – are open seven days a week, up to Monday, Nov. 5.
Early voting’s popularity in all forms has steadily increased with every election since the first time it was implemented in Illinois over a decade ago. Voting before Election Day – by mail, or during Early Voting and Grace Period Voting – accounted for 29 percent of all ballots cast in the March Gubernatorial Primary election.
There are a record number of registered voters – 1,583,911 – in suburban Cook County. This is a 2.2 percent increase in the number of registered voters since the March Primary Election and 13.2 percent more than the 1,398,724 registered voters in suburban Cook County in the 2014 Gubernatorial Election.
Election contests up and down the ballot are in the spotlight this election, and that’s reflected in the very high level of interest voters are demonstrating, which so far has resulted in a high number of applications for mail ballots from suburban Cook County voters.
As of Monday morning, more than 91,000 voters had requested mail ballots from the Cook County Clerk’s office, which is three times more than the total number of mail ballots returned to the office in the Gubernatorial Primary.
In the 2014 Gubernatorial Election, 51,237 suburban voters cast their votes by mail.
Voters who wish to make their choices in this election can do so from the comfort of their homes by voting by mail. They can apply online for a Vote by Mail ballot until Nov. 1. 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.
Suburban Cook County voters will be able to take advantage of a relatively new feature to make the Early Voting experience quicker and easier – an Early Voting Wait Time Viewer. Viewable either on desktop computers or mobile devices, the Wait Time Viewer on the clerk’s office website provides visitors to the page with 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.
Early Voting has only been in effect in Illinois since 2006, after Cook County Clerk David Orr led the effort to implement it throughout the state. 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.
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 cookcountyclerk.com/earlyvoting.
The press conference was broadcast live on the Clerk’s Facebook page.