Early voting attendance in Evanston expected to increase for midterm election

The+Lorraine+H.+Morton+Civic+Center%2C+2100+Ridge+Ave.+City+Clerk+Devon+Reid+expects+early+voting+to+increase+in+Evanston+this+year.

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

The Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave. City Clerk Devon Reid expects early voting to increase in Evanston this year.

Sophia Esquenazi, Reporter

As Evanston residents decide who they will vote for in the midterm elections, many have chosen to cast their ballots through early voting.

Beginning last Monday and ending on Monday, Nov. 5, Evanston residents can submit their votes for the various elections that will take place on Nov. 6.

While Election Day voting continues to comprise the majority of votes, early voting continues to draw more and more residents, according to data from the Cook County Clerk’s office. This process can be done in the form of in-person voting by appearing at a local elections office or other designated location, or through absentee voting.

The data showed that pre-election day voting in Evanston accounted for 26.7 percent of all ballots cast in the 2014 midterm elections, a 68.5 percent increase from the 2010 election. During that period, more mail ballots were cast in Cook County than in any election in the county’s history.

City Clerk Devon Reid said Tuesday that 5,633 individuals have voted early in Evanston so far. The clerk’s office expects to see a turnout of over 60 percent for this election, he said, with early voting accounting for 25 to 28 percent of votes.

Pre-election day voting is an important aspect of elections, as it provides several benefits to registered voters, including greater flexibility in scheduling time to vote and a reduction in wait time, Reid said. It also has the potential to increase voter turnout and expand the electorate, as many individuals are unable to vote in-person on Election Day.

Political science Prof. Thomas Ogorzalek said in general, early voting is a step in the right direction in terms of increasing participation.

“Different people will vote, and especially more people will vote if we make it easier,” Ogorzalek said. “It makes it more convenient for them, but it’s not clear that it changes the content of the electorate that much.”

Typically those who vote early are more likely to be individuals who have more information and are less persuadable during campaigns, Ogorzalek said.

Currently, 37 states have early voting. Ogorzalek added that while some are implementing reforms to make voting easier, others are making it more difficult. Illinois is one of those trying to make voting more accessible.

“If you haven’t registered in the state of Illinois yet, you can actually register and vote at the same time,” said Weinberg sophomore Jacob Wu, an NU Votes ambassador at the Center for Civic Engagement. “For most other states, the registration deadline has long passed.”

Northwestern students and Evanston residents can register and vote on weekdays and weekends at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., in Evanston.

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