First votes cast in Illinois primary

January 14, 2008 3:29:11 PM PST
Election officials expect a large turnout for the Illinois primary on February 5, so voters are encouraged to go to the polls early. As soon as the Orland Park Village Hall opened Monday morning, more than three weeks before February fifth, the presidential primary election was underway in Illinois.

"We had nothing to do today," said Loria Ongaro, Orland Park voter. "Here we are."

With a valid photo ID, registered voters in all Illinois counties may cast their ballots between now and January 31st.

"By having these available dates from today until January 31, our motto is don't worry, vote early," said David Orr, Cook County Clerk.

After a recent surge in new registrations in the city and suburbs, officials predict a large turnout on Election Day and are encouraging people to avoid the crowds by voting as soon as possible.

"This will be the first presidential campaign in Illinois where early voting is available," said Langdon Neal, Chicago Election Board.

The City of Chicago will have 51 early voting sites and suburban Cook County has 44 locations. DuPage County offers only six early voter locations, which is down from 18 in 2006. Officials there blame budget cuts.

"In DuPage, our sites are universal. You can walk in at any one of the six regardless of where you live and you can vote early," said Doreen Nelson, DuPage County Election Commission.

Unlike voters who vote absentee, early voters do not need a reason to cast their ballots before Election Day. However, by going to the polls early, they lose any chance to change their choices based on late developments in the campaigns.

"I pretty much made up my mind. So whatever transpires is not going to change my mind at all," said Jerry Ongaro, Orland Park.

Early voting is available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Some polling places are also available over the weekend.

Find an early voting location near you