Long wait times, technical issues reported as early voting sites open in all wards across Chicago

Thursday, October 15, 2020
Long lines, issues reported as early voting sites expand to all 50 wards in Chicago
Hundreds of voters line up to cast ballots at early voting sites across Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Hundreds of voters lined the streets Wednesday as early voting sites expanded to all 50 wards in Chicago.

Some voters reported standing in line for almost four hours waiting to cast their ballots. Several locations reportedly did not open on time or had voting machine issues that added to the delay.

Residents in Ward 6 said the polling site at Deneen Elementary School, located at 7257 S. State St., only had two working machines before the system crashed all together, forcing all voters to stand outside.

Shirley Slaughter and her daughter waited about an hour to vote in Lincoln Park.

"We always vote together," she said. "And to see, she's going to raise her son up to the do the same thing. And we told him we're going to vote and he said, 'Can I go?' I wish he could. He's only 14."

Many residents in line Wednesday morning were seniors, some of whom chose to stay despite the long wait.

"The people before me, who stood in line for me to get here, I'm pretty sure they went through much more than I had to do for a few hours," early voter Charles Giles said.

Other voters said they felt the city should've been better-prepared to deal with a volume of voters, especially in neighborhoods with a larger senior population.

Without seating and access to bathrooms, the hours-long waits proved to be too much for many.

Police were called and tensions grew when another group of seniors arrived, claiming they had priority to vote.

Rroderick Sawyer, 6th ward alderman, said he's working to address some of Wednesday's issues, adding he hasn't seen voter engagement like this since the election of Chicago's first black mayor, Harold Washington.

"This I've never seen before; I'm happy to see this because this means people really know what's going on," Sawyer said.

In Chicago's South Side Park Manor neighborhood, 95-year-old Mary McClellan said of all the elections she's voted in, this is the most important ballot she's ever cast.

"What's going on in the country, we need a change, and I enjoy being part of it," she said.

And so do hundreds of others who braved long lines and endured technical problems at some early voting sites Wednesday.

"I'm very disappointed because it seems like there was no plan. I'm out here with the rest of the seniors and some of them have arthritis and all that," said early voter Zaundra Boyd. "It's 50 degrees out here; there was no backup plan."

There were also long lines caused by system delays at early voting sites located on 65th Street and out on 115th.

But it was of little concern to Ellana Boutique Owner Ella Dukes, who put her business on hold to vote in-person Wednesday morning.

"I'm here and I voted, and it feels really good to cast my vote," she said.

Two weeks ago, the city's first early voting Super Site opened in the Loop, where hundreds lined the street to cast their ballots on the first day. City officials said so far more than 12,000 voters have cast their ballots at that location.

Another voting location opened the next week at the Cook County Administration Building, located at 69 W. Washington St.

These early voting sites will also have secured drop boxes, where voters can return their completed ballots in their signed and sealed envelopes.

Election officials have been pushing mail-in ballots as a secure way to vote during the pandemic. More than two million have requested ballots by mail, according to the state's board of elections. And about a half million people have filled out and returned theirs.

However, officials said they have already seen a large increase in early voting in-person, about 200,000 statewide. Chicago election officials said on the first day of the city's ward-wide early voting show more than 17,000 people voted early today, surpassing the previous largest first-day turnout in 2016.

Illinois Election 2020: Meet the Candidates

Early voting sites are now available across the city of Chicago.

Many early voting locations have seen long lines; it's advised to plan ahead.

To note: It is a very long ballot this year. So election officials are asking voters to plan your vote, and look at a sample ballot online ahead of time.

All suburban Cook County courthouses have also opened for early voting.

"Additionally, we're getting ready to roll out Union Station. We're really excited about this because a lot of our voters in suburban Cook County come through Union Station," Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough said.

Early voting will expand to 53 suburban locations and a site at Union Station on Monday.

Early voting expands Wednesday to more sites in Cook County.

Locations & Hours for Early Voting

Starting Oct. 1 through Oct. 13 - only at the Loop Super Site

Loop Super Site at Clark & Lake - 191 N. Clark St.

Monday-Friday - 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday - 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Election Day, Nov. 3 - 6 a.m.-7 p.m.

Starting Oct. 14 through Nov. 3 - All 50 wards

Early Voting sites in all 50 Wards - plus the Loop Super Site

Monday-Friday - 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.

Saturday-Sunday - 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Election Day, Nov. 3 - 6 a.m.-7 p.m.

Loop Super Site at Clark & Lake - 191 N. Clark St.

Ward 1 - Goldblatts Building, 1615 W Chicago Ave.

Ward 2 - Ogden Elementary School, 24 W Walton St.

Ward 3 - Beethoven Elementary School, 25 W 47th St.

Ward 4 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, 4314 S Cottage Grove

Ward 5 - Ray Elementary School, 5631 S Kimbark Ave.

Ward 6 - Deneen Elementary School, 7257 S State St. (changed 9/29)

Ward 7 - Burnham Elementary School, 9928 S Crandon Ave.

Ward 8 - Olive Harvey College, 10001 S Woodlawn Ave.

Ward 9 - Curtis Elementary School, 32 E 115th St.

Ward 10 - Sadlowski Elementary School, 3930 E 105th St.

Ward 11 - Sheridan Elementary School, 533 W 27th St.

Ward 12 - Kelly High School, 4136 S California Ave.

Ward 13 - West Lawn Park, 4233 W 65th St.

Ward 14 - Edwards Elementary School, 4815 S Karlov Ave.

Ward 15 - Carson Elementary School, 5516 S Maplewood Ave.

Ward 16 - Lindblom Park, 6054 S Damen Ave.

Ward 17 - Southside High School, 7342 S Hoyne Ave.

Ward 18 - Carroll Elementary School, 2929 W 83rd St.

Ward 19 - Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W 111th St. (changed 9/25)

Ward 20 - Fiske Elementary School, 6020 S. Langley Ave. (changed 9/30)

Ward 21 - Turner - Drew Language Acad., 9300 S Princeton Ave.

Ward 22 - Ortiz De Dominguez Elementary School, 3000 S Lawndale Ave.

Ward 23 - Dore Elementary School, 7134 W 65th St. (changed 9/29)

Ward 24 - Herzl Elementary School, 3711 W Douglas Blvd.

Ward 25 - Jungman Elementary School, 1746 S Miller St.

Ward 26 - Casals Elementary School 3501, W Potomac Ave.

Ward 27 - Suder Elementary School, 2022 W Washington Blvd

Ward 28 - Westside Learning Center, 4624 W Madison St.

Ward 29 - Burbank Elementary School, 2035 N Mobile Ave.

Ward 30 - Lorca Elementary School, 3231 N Springfield Ave.

Ward 31 - Falconer Elementary School, 3020 N Lamon Ave.

Ward 32 - Pulaski Elementary School, 2230 W McLean Ave.

Ward 33 - Bateman Elementary School, 4220 N Richmond St.

Ward 34 - Dunne Elementary School, 10845 S Union Ave.

Ward 35 - NEIU El Centro, 3390 N Avondale Ave.

Ward 36 - Hanson Park Elementary School, 5411 W Fullerton Ave.

Ward 37 - McNair Elementary School, 4820 W Walton St.

Ward 38 - Hiawatha Park, 8029 W Forest Preserve Dr.

Ward 39 - Sauganash Elementary School, 6040 N Kilpatrick Ave.

Ward 40 - Mather High School, 5835 N Lincoln Ave.

Ward 41 - Oriole Park Elementary School, 5424 N Oketo Ave.

Ward 42 - Maggie Daley Park, 337 E. Randolph St.

Ward 43 - Lincoln Park High School, 2001 N Orchard St.

Ward 44 - Inter American Elementary School, 851 W Waveland Ave.

Ward 45 - Hitch Elementary School, 5625 N McVicker Ave.

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 - New Field Elementary School, 1707 W Morse Ave.

Ward 50 - Warren Park, 6601 N Western Ave.