Early voting option attracts few Northwestern students
October 24, 2012
Although early voting in Illinois began Monday, few Northwestern students say they plan to take advantage of it.
Early voting in Illinois will continue through Nov. 3. Of the 1,003 students who registered to vote through NU Votes, a Center for Civic Engagement initiative, more than 60 percent registered to vote in Cook County and are eligible to cast their ballots now.
Communication sophomore Christopher Romero is registered to vote in Cook County and said the distance from campus to the closest early voting location deterred him from going to the polls before Election Day.
“The closest early voting location in Evanston is the Evanston Civic Center, which is like a mile away, and the closest location for voting on the actual Election Day is literally across the street at Alice Millar Chapel,” he said. “Even though it’s later on, I’d rather walk across the street than walk a mile to vote early.”
He said he did not know of any other students who plan to vote early in Evanston.
SESP sophomore and Illinois voter Camryn Castle also said he will vote on Election Day.
“I figured it would be more convenient for me to vote on Election Day, but to be honest I haven’t looked into early voting,” he said.
NU Votes program coordinator and SESP senior Becca Portman said the initiative has not been encouraging students to vote early.
“It definitely hasn’t been an NU Votes priority,” she said. “We are focused on registration.”
However, NU Votes has encouraged students to vote during grace-period registration. Grace-period registration is a form of early voting that allows citizens to vote even if they missed the voter registration deadline, as long as they go to the polls by Nov. 3, according to the county clerk's website. Additionally, NU Votes plans to launch a social networking outreach campaign that will encourage students to vote on Election Day, Portman said.
Portman said in her experience, most students she knows are not planning to vote early. She said she thought students were “excited to pull the lever on Election Day,” an experience early voting doesn’t provide.
President Barack Obama will vote early in Chicago on Thursday. In a news release, First Lady Michelle Obama encouraged supporters to vote early as well.
"It means you don't have to worry about your schedule filling up, or getting sick, or having to work late on Election Day," she said in the release. "And more than anything, it means you can act right now to move our country forward."
From Monday to Wednesday, 1,655 people voted early in Evanston, and 43,956 people have voted early in Cook County as a whole, according to the clerk's website.