Early voting expands across Chicago, Cook County on Monday

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A new poll shows the Democratic gubernatorial race tightening just as early voting expands across Chicago and Cook County. (WLS)

Early voting for the March 20 primary expanded on Monday across Chicago and Cook County.

And voters took advantage of the opportunity and headed to the polls at 104 Chicago area locations.

"Well, I'm off today, I work for the county and I'm off today so I came out to vote," said Patrick Duffy.

Early voting sites will be open seven days a week at sites in each of Chicago's 50 wards and at 51 sites in suburban Cook County. Each site will also offer voter registration. Early voting continues until March 19, the day before the primary.

"Most early voters are those who really want to make sure they vote. And they do not want to take a chance that something happens," said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Turnout for the primary is expected to be good for a non-presidential election year based on the number of people who requested ballots by mail and the number of high-interest races, including governor and attorney general.

NEW POLL

As voting kicked off, a new polls shows the Democratic gubernatorial race tightening up. The Public Policy Polling survey questioned 553 Democratic likely voters in Cook County between Feb. 28 and March 1.

J.B. Pritzker is still the front runner in the poll with 35 percent of the vote, however, when compared to some other state-wide polls which had Daniel Biss in second place, this latest poll has Chris Kennedy nipping at Pritzker's heels with 31 percent of the vote. The poll has Biss with 18 percent and 16 percent of voters still undecided. The margin of error was not provided.

HIGH VOTER TURNOUT?

Technically speaking, pre-election voting started last month as people were able to request ballots by mail.

"We have more than 32,000 people who have already applied to vote by mail. That's an increase of more than 200 percent over the 2014 midterm primary," said Marisel Hernandez, chairwoman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

With most of the debates done and most of the newspapers endorsements out, local election officials said people are starting to make up their minds in major races such as for governor and attorney general.

While voters can request either a Democratic or Republican ballot, Orr doesn't anticipate a lot of cross party voting.

"Given the governor's race, even if, I can't tell you what the votes will be, but given it's a pretty hot thing politically, I don't think you'll see many crossovers either way," Orr said.

But even though people now can cast their ballots many are still undecided.

"I'm still considering a couple of options trying to do my research and trying to spend some time who all is out there and what they stand for," said voter Nathan Matthew.

Election officials said people should not have to worry about hackers impacting the election, as safeguards are in place and they are in communication with the FBI and Homeland Security.

State election officials said they have done significant security upgrades after last year's data breach where information about 76,000 voters was compromised.

For a list of locations and times for Chicago area early voting, visit our voter information page.

For information on the candidates running in the primary, visit our Meet the Candidates page.
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