Early Voting Starts; Ward Organizations Strive To Get The Vote Out

By Sam Charles | Monday, October 22, 2012

The Welles Park early voting polling place last January. Early voting in Chicago this year runs from Oct. 22 through Nov. 3. Credit: Mike Fourcher.

Today marks the start of early voting in Illinois, and area political committees are working to encourage constituents to exercise their right, despite the lack of a compelling top of the ballot campaign.

With no U.S. Senate or governor race this year, and since President Barack Obama is expected to carry his home state’s 20 electoral votes in the Nov. 6 general election, 40th Ward Alderman and Democratic Committeeman Patrick O’Connor is striving to keep things interesting for voters. That means getting out in the community and raising awareness of issues aside from who is running for president.

And for the most part, while area some state legislators, Water Reclamation District seats and some county-wide offices, like Cook County Recorder of Deeds, are contested, they are not the kind of races that get voters’ blood pumping.

“The challenge for us is that even though Barack Obama is considered to be a lock for Illinois, you really need to make sure going into the final days of the election, that stays the same,” O’Connor told Center Square Journal.

“For us, it’s about getting our organization out into the precincts pushing what we consider to be a good sample ballot. There are some referendums that are important to people…and that will hopefully help people get from the top of the ballot for the president to the end of the ballot for the referendums and everything in between.”

Alderman and Democratic Committeeman Tom Tunney’s 44th Ward organization is taking a more technological approach to reaching the ward’s younger voting bloc.

“We’ve been sending out notices in the [ward] newsletter telling people about different polling locations and posting information on Facebook,” said Erin Duffy, director of community outreach for the 44th Ward. “A lot of people saw our Facebook post and we’ve had several calls from people asking about it. It’s a great way to reach young voters.”

Early voting runs through Nov. 3 and residents of the city can vote at any of the 51 designated polling places. Voters need to present government-issued photo identification to use early voting.

Area polling places include: Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose Ave.; Budlong Woods Library, 5630 N. Lincoln Ave.; Merlo Library, 644 W. Belmont Ave; and Welles Park, 2333 W. Sunnyside Ave.

Voters in Chicago can check the Board of Elections Commissioners for a full list of early voting polling places and their hours of operation.

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