Strong turnout at early voting sites
From Staff Reports October 25, 2012 4:08PM
A steady pace of voters have been turning out to cast their early vote Thursday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. October 25, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 27, 2012 11:00AM
Early voting in the Fox Valley is off to a running start.
Lines have been reported at several locations in Kane County, including Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin.
“It’s been crazy,” said election judge Ralph Carlson of Batavia.
Carlson, who has been an election judge for more than a decade, said Thursday that he has never seen such a turnout for early voting.
“Doing it early is so much nicer,” Carlson said. “I just know on Election Day, people will be standing in line until 8 p.m.”
Kane County Clerk John Cunningham said 2,069 county residents voted on Monday, when early voting kicked off. Cunningham’s office reports 222,810 county residents on the voter rolls.
On Thursday afternoon, Cunningham said that 11,156 voters already had showed up at the polls, accounting for 5 percent of registered Kane County voters.
Cunningham said Kane County sent out almost 3,600 absentee ballots. Another 195 residents have accessed the new grace period option, which enables people to register to vote and cast their ballots at the same time, until Nov. 3.
He said that the wider array of voting choices is a positive development for taxpayers.
“Had we not had the 50,000 votes cast early in 2008, we would have needed more equipment out in the field, and that would have cost $900,000 to $1 million,” Cunningham said.
He said that although he doesn’t expect early voting totals to be as high as they were in 2008, he anticipates the number this year to be within 8,000 to 10,000 votes of the last presidential election year.
Big Cook turnout
Meanwhile, more than 13,500 suburban Cook County voters cast ballots Monday, setting a new record for the first day of early voting, Cook County Clerk David Orr announced.
“Turnout is already impressive, and I hope it keeps up until early voting ends Nov. 3,” Orr said. “We are sending extra help to the early voting sites to help handle the crowds.”
In 2008, 7,733 ballots were cast on the first day of early voting, and more than 226,000 early votes were cast before Election Day.
Voters do not need an excuse to vote early, but they must provide a government-issued photo ID. Suburban Cook County voters may use any of the 44 early voting locations or the clerk’s downtown Chicago office at 69 W. Washington.