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Early Voting Ends Leaving ‘Hot Races’ To Come

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roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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CHICAGO (WBBM) — The Chicago Board of Elections and the Cook County clerk’s office said early voting was heaviest in the last four days of pre-election day balloting.

Early voting has ended for Tuesday’s Chicago aldermanic runoffs and suburban elections. WBBM’s Bob Roberts says there was a bit of a last-minute rush to get to the polls.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Bob Roberts reports

In suburban Cook County alone, 26,679 early votes were cast. Of that number, 3,221 — 12 percent — were cast in one polling place, the Centennial Ice Rink in Wilmette, a community in which there is a contested village board race, contested Wilmette District 39 and New Trier school board races, and a District 39 tax referendum.

A distant second was Chicago Heights, where a mayor’s race that has prompted lawsuits drew 2,094 early voters. But Cook County Clerk David Orr said the top six early voting locations accounted for nearly 11,000 of the votes cast.

Those included Lemont, Orland Park, Matteson and Evanston. “Judging by the early voting turnout, it’s clear there are some hot races in this election,” Orr said.

The referendum is the hot-button issue in the portions of Wilmette and Glenview that are in District 39, which is seeking the first increase in its tax ceiling since 1998.

Proponents note that in that time, enrollment has increased 9 percent while revenues have been flat.

District 39 officials are threatening to increase the class size to 33 and lay off as many as 80 classroom personnel if the referendum fails, which is enough to bring some voters, such as Sonja Iribarren, to the polls.

“Their budget isn’t going up while their expenses are and I very much want to support our schools and our community,” she said.

But the increase in property tax bills — which could run anywhere between $300 and $600 a year — is too much for many others, including a woman who only identified herself as Barbara.

“In this economy, we can’t raise taxes,” she said. “It’s just too hard.”

Orr said he expects more and more voters to cast ballots early as time moves on, and said it will mean fewer polling places open Election Day in years to come.

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