Early voting expands to 50 Chicago ward sites, but turnout remains low

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Early voting just got a lot easier. And though there were a few glitches on the first day that these new polling places were open, voters now have many more options to cast a ballot before Election Day.

Early voting expanded citywide on Monday, with polling places opening in all 50 wards. But voter turnout remains low - something the Board of Elections hopes improves in the next two weeks.

"A voter may choose to vote at any early voting site that is convenient for them no matter where they live within Chicago," said Marisel Hernandez, chair, Chicago Board of Elections Commissioner.

In the first 13 days of early voting, the city says 2,166 ballots have been cast. But compared to the same point in the primary election cycle four years ago, voter turnout this year is down 46%. Although the numbers are better than 2014, when 1,851 ballots had been cast at the same point in the cycle.

Voter turnout is typically low during primary elections, but there are extra factors that could be at work this year.

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"They moved the primary several months away from what people are used to," ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington said. "People vote out of habit. They have a lot of familiarity. If there's not a primary when they expect it, they may overlook it, they may not to be focused on it."

Early voting could also have been hurt at the two superstations that opened May 31 by so many people still working from home and not coming downtown. The barrage of negative TV ads in many races also may have turned voters off. And then there are the polls suggesting in some key races, many voters are still undecided.

To encourage early voting, the Chicago Board Of Elections has now opened all of these additional polling places in every ward, hoping to get more people off the sidelines and into the voting booths.

"Well, I'm headed to Puerto Rico on Wednesday to visit relatives and I won't be back until the 30th, so I won't be here when we have regular voting," early voter Irma Olmert said.

Low voter turnout in the GOP race for governor, for example, could favor conservative Darren Bailey against his closest rival, the more moderate Richard Irvin.

"It tends to favor the candidates who can appeal to the diehard activist voters, the people who always vote in the primaries no matter what, and really buy into their party's messages," Washington said.

In other races, it could come down name recognition with just over two weeks until Election Day.

Voters can cast their ballots at any early voting site, no matter where they live in the city. Those same locations will be open as voting centers on the day of the primary, June 28.

Chicago Early Voting Sites

Ward 1: Goldblatts Building 1615 W Chicago Ave
Ward 2: Near North Branch 310 W Division St
Ward 3: Fuller Park 331 W 45th St
Ward 4: Dr. Martin Luther King Center 4314 S Cottage Gr
Ward 5: Jackson Park 6401 S Stony Island Ave
Ward 6: Whitney Young Library 415 E 79 St Chicago
Ward 7: Trumbull Park 2400 E 105th St
Ward 8: Olive Harvey College 10001 S Woodlawn Ave
Ward 9: Palmer Park 201 E 111th St
Ward 10: East Side Vodak Library 3710 E 106th St
Ward 11: Mc Guane Park 2901 S Poplar Ave
Ward 12: McKinley Park Branch 1915 W 35th St
Ward 13: Westlawn Park 4233 W 65th St
Ward 14: Archer Heights Branch 5055 S Archer Ave
Ward 15: Gage Park 2411 W 55th St

Ward 16: Lindblom Park 6054 S Damen Ave
Ward 17: Thurgood Marshall Library 7506 S Racine Ave
Ward 18: Wrightwood Ashburn Branch Library 8530 S Kedzie Ave
Ward 19: Mt Greenwood Park 3721 W 111th St
Ward 20: Bessie Coleman Library 731 E 63rd St
Ward 21: Foster Park 1440 W 84th St
Ward 22: Toman Library 2708 S Pulaski Rd
Ward 23: Clearing Branch Library 6423 W 63rd Pl
Ward 24: St Agatha Catholic Parish 3151 W Douglas Bv
Ward 25: Chinatown Library 2100 S Wentworth Ave
Ward 26: Humboldt Park Library 1605 N Troy St
Ward 27: Union Park Field House 1501 W Randolph St
Ward 28: West Side Learning Center 4624 W Madison St
Ward 29: Amundsen Park 6200 W Bloomingdale Ave
Ward 30: Kilbourn Park 3501 N Kilbourn Ave
Ward 31: Portage Cragin Library 5108 W Belmont Ave
Ward 32: Bucktown-Wicker Pk Library 1701 N Milwaukee Ave

Ward 33: Congregation Of The Resurrection Bldg 3633 N California Ave
Ward 34: West Pullman Library 830 W 119th St
Ward 35: Northeastern Il University El Centro 3390 N Avondale Ave
Ward 36: West Belmont Library 3104 N Narragansett Ave
Ward 37: West Chicago Library 4856 W Chicago Ave
Ward 38: Hiawatha Park 8029 W Forest Preserve Dr
Ward 39: North Park Village 5801 N Pulaski Rd
Ward 40: Budlong Woods Library 5630 N Lincoln Ave
Ward 41: Roden Library 6083 N Northwest Hw
Ward 42: Maggie Daley Park 337 E Randolph St
Ward 43: Lincoln Pk Br Library 1150 W Fullerton Ave
Ward 44: Merlo Library 644 W Belmont Ave
Ward 45: Independence Library 4024 N Elston
Ward 46: Truman College 1145 W Wilson Ave
Ward 47: Welles Park 2333 W Sunnyside Ave
Ward 48: Broadway Armory 5917 N Broadway
Ward 49: Willye B White Park 1610 W Howard St
Ward 50: Warren Park 6601 N Western Ave
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