Early voting could affect 10th District race

October 29, 2008 3:49:39 PM PDT
Early voting across the Chicago area is setting records. Some are wondering how the high number of early ballots will impact local races, including the 10th Congressional District contest in the north suburbs. Democrat Dan Seals is running against incumbent Republican Mark Kirk. Election officials project that when early voting ends Thursday night, anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of the area's 4.5 million registered voters will already have cast their ballots, according to election officials. Where in the not-so-distant past politicians prepared for one Election Day, now depending on where they run, they endure two to three weeks of them.

It's Election Day for another day at the Northbrook Village Hall. The mid-afternoon wait in line is at least 45 minutes for Wednesday voters who had already made up their minds.

"We were very much ready to vote," said Jossie Nebbenzahl, early voter.

"I already voted and I'm set on who I would like to win," said Susan Derouse, early voter.

It's also the third week in a row that workers for the two 10th District congressional candidates have had to pass out leaflets outside polling places.

For incumbent Mark Kirk and challenger Dan Seals, early voting has changed the way campaigns are run.

"You have to get your message out earlier, not plan for Election Day but actually the first day of early voting," said Seals.

"About half our campaign was solely at early voters. We led a massive effort to tell our supporters in September, vote, vote right now as polls open," Kirk said.

The Northbrook Village Hall is one of 44 suburban Cook County locations where by mid-afternoon Wednesday 188,000 people had already voted early. Over 69,000 have cast ballots in Lake County and nearly 77,000 in DuPage. Add those to well over 200,000 votes already cast in the city.

"I heard enough in the last 20 months and I think I know who I want to vote for," said Ken Nebbenzahl, early voter.

Election officials say the fact that an Illinois senator is running for president explains the spectacular early vote numbers in the state.

Meanwhile, the North Shore congressional candidates added their spins on why the early vote phenomenon will benefit their respective campaigns.

"A lot of our campaign has been to generate interest in early voting and to make sure the largest number of people vote," said Kirk.

"These people are coming out because they want to vote for change, and so when they look at someone who has been in Washington for decades, and been a supporter of the administration, no, they're not coming out to vote for my opponent," Seals said.

Seals and other candidates are concerned that early voting could mean an increase the cost of a campaign. Candidates have to get their message out before the first day of early voting and keep it out there for three weeks.

Seals spent a lot of money early in the campaign and Congressman Kirk said two weeks ago he thought Seals had run out of money. But, now, Seals is getting help on the stretch run from national Democrats.


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