CHICAGO (WLS) -- The University of Illinois at Chicago is offering early voting on campus until Friday, ahead of the March 20 primary election.
The effort aims to boost the number of young voters, who traditionally have low turnout.
Many students took advantage of the polls' proximity on Wednesday.
"There are a lot of major issues that need to be changed, I believe voting is one of the ways to do that," said Charlie Lang, a UIC student.
"I feel like everybody comes out for the general election, but I feel like if you go out in the primary, you care about these things," said Sarah Hassan, a first-time voter.
Four years ago, only 9 percent of UIC students turned out to vote. In the 2016 general election, the number went way up, but it was a presidential year. This year, the goal is to surpass 2016 numbers and get more than 1,000 students and staff to early vote.
"The student or youth vote, as it is sometimes called, could quite easily the deciding factor in a number of tight races in Illinois," said Dick Simpson, a UIC political science professor.
High-profile competitive races, including a gubernatorial election, are driving many to the polls in Chicago.
After 3 weeks of early voting, the Chicago Board of Elections says it is already surpassing numbers from 2010, which is a year the board uses as a comparison because of the similarities of races.
In addition to early voting, the election board is seeing three times as many vote by mail applications.
"A congressional race, it might be an attorney general, somewhere, we are bound to have a very close race, where vote by mail ballots may be a deciding factor," said Jim Allen, a Chicago Board of Elections spokesman.
Early voting and registration at 51 sites in Chicago continues through Monday.
UIC offers early voting on campus this week