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Chicago Voter Turnout Predicted To Surpass 2008

Voters cast their ballots in suburban Chicago. (credit: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

Voters cast their ballots in suburban Chicago. (credit: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Chicago Board of Elections Chairman Langdon Neal said Thursday that voter turnout on Election Day might be heavier than the 74 percent recorded in 2008.

“Primarily based on the turnout we’ve had so far in early voting (and) absentee voting is up,” Neal said. “If you simply do the math, and about 25 percent of out voters choose either absentee or early voting, that would lead you to the conclusion that we expect the other 75 percent on election day.”

The prediction is a bit of a surprise, given that, locally, there isn’t the same electricity that surrounded the 2008 election, and voter registrations are down 123,000 in the city, to 1.36 million.

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Early voting totals have surpassed 2008 figures every day so far, except Wednesday, Neal said. However, this year there are 14 days of early voting, instead of the 18 days preceding the 2008 presidential election. Likewise, the number of precincts in the city have been reduced from roughly 2,500 under the old map to 2,034.

Together, Neal said, the changes are expected to cut Election Board expenses by $1 million.

Neal reminded voters that they have only till Saturday evening to vote early at any of 51 sites in the city — one in each ward, as well as at Chicago Election Board headquarters, at 69 W. Washington St.. They also have until Saturday to register at Election Board headquarters under the “grace voting” system, which requires the newly-registered voter to cast an immediate ballot.

Neal said about 15 percent of the city’s voters on Tuesday will find themselves in new polling places, largely because it is the first election to be conducted under the new ward map. Because of that, for the first time, voters from the city of Chicago can text their address to the Election Board and can get the address of their polling place in return.

He urged voters to bring two forms of identification with them, even though it is not required in order to vote. If a poll watcher or election judge challenges a specific voter, or if a voter is deemed “inactive,” a driver’s license, other government-issued identification or a utility bill can be used to prove registration.

Inquiries on polling places can be texted to (312) 361-8846.