Chicago voter guide to facilitate voting

October 18, 2012 6:13:39 AM PDT
Election Day is less than three weeks away and in Illinois early voting begins next Monday.

Prior to that, the Chicago Board of Elections is sending out its 2012 voter guide to the city's 1.1 million registered voters in an attempt to help them make sense of the many ways non-traditional voting is working this year.

For people who missed the October 9 deadline to get registered to vote in Chicago, the city's Elections Office was a busy place Wednesday. We're into the grace period that will last until November 3. During the grace period, you must register to vote and cast your ballot at the same time. Early voting for already-registered voters starts Monday, Oct. 22.

"I actually just got married on October 6th, so I had a name change and address change so I had to re-register," said Kate Holtkamp, voter.

In four languages, Chicago's voter guide highlights the location of a citizen's polling place; the closest of the city's 51 early voting sites; instructions for requesting an absentee ballot (this year you don't have to give a reason); and a warning to feed this year's longer two-page ballot into the voting machine carefully. There's a proposed state constitutional amendment on pensions to consider.

"Pay close attention to the location so that you know exactly and confirm the location of your polling place," said Langdon D. Neal, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners Chairman.

Relying on population data from the 2010 census, Chicago will have 335 fewer places to vote than in 2008. Officials say a third of Chicagoans will vote in new wards and 15 percent won't be going to their traditional polling place. And they say citizens have gone to early voting sites already, keen to vote, even though they can't until next Monday.

"They have a number of days,10 days or so, they can go wherever they want, it is the most convenient, the most reliable ... we like it because we see our voters," said Neal.

Early voting will run through November 3, the Saturday before the election. The president's campaign says he's coming to Chicago Oct. 25 to cast his ballot. Like him, many in this office want to exercise their franchise fast.

"I know my ancestors really fought hard in order for me to have a right to vote so it is very important I exercise my right and allow my voice to be heard," said Elyse Barrett, voter.

Cook County Clerk David Orr says in suburban Cook Country that with two weeks left to apply, voters have already requested nearly 26,000 ballots. That's about as many ballots by mail as during the last presidential election. There are 44 early voting sites in suburban Cook County.


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