Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Early Voters Cast About 300 Ballots In Period Before Elections

By Megan CrepeauThe Daily Northwestern

About 300 people voted early in Evanston this year instead of waiting for this Tuesday’s Election Day.

Early voting started on March 28 and ended Thursday evening.

This is the third year registered citizens in Evanston had the option to vote before the actual election.

“The elections are always interesting,” said City Clerk Mary Morris, whose office coordinates elections along with the Cook County Clerk’s Office. “It’s a privilege that is unfortunately not exercised by more people.”

Local voters can cast ballots at any polling place in suburban Chicago – not only in their cities of residence. That means early voters at Evanston’s Civic Center have not all been Evanston residents: They’ve been residents of Winnetka and Wilmette too, Morris said.

An accurate vote count of Evanston ballots was not available Thursday due to a problem with the county’s voting system.

Early voting differs slightly from Election Day voting. Early voters must present photo identification at the polling site, and their votes are recorded using different machines than the optical-scan or electronic machines used in the regular voting process.

Residents can also vote in advance through absentee mail-in ballots, in person at the Cook County Clerk’s office in downtown Chicago or at five satellite county offices.

The absentee option was not as convenient as early voting for Evanston resident Victoria Scott, who chose to vote early because she’ll be out of the country on Election Day.

“I think (early voting) is great,” she said. “Otherwise, my husband and I would have had to vote absentee, and I don’t think I’d have gotten around to that.”

There are advantages and disadvantages to casting an early ballot, Morris said. For instance, since people don’t have to provide a specific reason for voting early, anyone can vote at his or her leisure.

But that convenience might come at a cost, Morris said, because early voters often do not have as much exposure to the issues and the candidates, which can result in a less-informed vote.

“In order to vote early and intelligently, you have to scrounge around. You’re at kind of a disadvantage,” she said. “Things don’t heat up until about two weeks before the election. … In the first week (of early voting), how would you know (who to vote for)?”

Morris said voting was “pretty slow” at the Civic Center polling station so far, in part because the offices up for election are less popular than others.

“Some people do not realize how important it is to vote for the school board,” she said. “It’s very important.”

Evanston residents will have the opportunity to vote for three school board candidates for Evanston/Skokie School District 65 and three for District 202, the district for Evanston Township High School.

In addition, the two hotly debated Civic Center referenda finally will be voted on. Citizens can voice their opinions on whether the city’s government offices should be moved from the aging building at 2100 Ridge Ave. or whether the city should stay and rehabilitate the building.

Both referenda are non-binding and are meant only to gauge citizen opinion on the hot-button issue.

Reach Megan Crepeau at [email protected].

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Early Voters Cast About 300 Ballots In Period Before Elections