Early voting to begin Monday

January 13, 2008 4:31:29 PM PST
Early voting for the February 5th primary starts Monday in Illinois.

Election officials hope allowing voters to cast ballots over a period of several weeks will help prevent the problems on election night Illinois voters have seen in years past.

Every presidential primary brings in between 200,000 to 300,000 new voters in Chicago. And because the interest is this year's election is so great, that number is expected to be even higher.

So, the Chicago Election Board is trying to get the word out about the ease of early voting.

If the long lines in New Hampshire's presidential primary are an indication of what is to come, Chicago wants to be prepared. So, the Chicago Election Board is urging voters to vote early.

"There are 51 early voting sites throughout the city of Chicago. The great thing about early voting is voters can use any 51 sites they choose," said Langdon Neal, Chicago Election Board Chairman.

The combination of an earlier primary date and what may be a record number of people voting is putting a great deal of pressure on the election board to pull off a election night free of problems, which is why board Chairman Langdon Neal is pushing early voting. With thousands of registered new voters. The turnout on February 5 is expected to be big.

"This is the first time we have an opportunity to elect an African-American, or to elect a woman. We have two candidates strong ties to Illinois. And, since 1928 do not have a sitting president on ticket," said Neal.

Many Illinois voters cannot wait to exercise their civic duty.

"I'm generally excited about it. I think it is going to be interesting to the end. So, it's something watch everyday," said voter Linda Foster.

"I'm glued to the television. I think it's very exciting. I'm glad that such a broad range of the population is involved in the election and hopefully will vote," said Carol Ferstman, also a voter.

The election board is sending out over 1 million voter guides, that list early voting sites, instructions on electronic voting systems and the location of your polling place.

"Since last election, we have made mnay changes to precinct locations," said Neal.

Langdon Neal says it is important to check the location of your polling place because 100 different precincts have been eliminated this year.

If you have not registered to vote in Chicago, it is not too late. While the deadline has passed, the election board is offering a grace period. The catch: voters have to vote the same time you register.

Early voting officially starts Monday and lasts through January 31.