Early voting numbers up in Cook and collar counties

Sarah Schulte Image
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
Early voting numbers are up ahead of primary election
Early voting numbers in Cook County and the collar counties are up ahead of Tuesday's primary election, officials asid.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the Chicago area enters the final hours of early voting, turnout in the city and suburbs has been up according to election officials.

If that is any indication, it could be a busy day at the polls Tuesday for Illinois's primary election.

Early voting numbers in Cook and all collar counties have been higher than last election, especially Lake County. But election officials said that's only a reflection on people who have made up their minds, or like the convenience.

Early voting in Cook County is expected to hit 100,000 voters Monday, big numbers compared to elections four and eight years ago. The City of Chicago said that the early voting period ended Monday night at 7 p.m., 109,029 pre-election ballots had been cast; that's more than double the numbers from 2010 and about triple the amount from 2014.

Hotly contested races are bringing people to the polls early, but not all voters.

"I don't know where the millennials are. So millennials, please come out and vote," said Marisel Hernandez, chairwoman of the Chicago Board of Elections.

The city and country said most of the early voters are 45 and older, and the majority are female and Democrats. High school teacher Betsy Serilla used early voting as a field trip, encourage her first-time-voter students to exercise their right.

"When it comes to the electoral process, I've explained to them it's their only chance to have a voice on record on who gets elected," she said.

"It felt good, like I felt like I've established I'm old enough to actually make a decision on who I want," said first time voter Cierra Holmes.

The students hope to encourage other young people to vote by posting pictures of their "I voted" bands on social media.

The convenience of voting before Election Day and the governor's race is what brought 26-year-old Rebecca Sutich to the polls Monday.

"I think just knowing that there's a lot of highly-contested elections going on right now, and it's more important than ever, I think, to go out and vote," she said.

Election boards are expecting some races to be very tight; they may come down to mail and provisional ballots. Cook County is also keeping a close eye on potential fraud or hacking.

"We know that the hackers are out there, we work with Homeland Security and the FBI almost every day, in fact they'll be here on Election Day," said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Orr said there will be plenty of attorneys on site monitoring the elections as well. Early voting ends at 7 p.m. Monday. Regular voting at precinct polling places starts at 6 a.m. Tuesday, and polls close at 7 p.m.