CHICAGO (CBS) — Early voting in Cook County began Thursday in limited locations. Only one early voting site, located in the Loop, will be open in Cook County for city voters until the end of October.
On October 22, early voting will expand to all 50 wards in Chicago, along with other locations throughout Cook County.
J.B. Pritzker was among the first Chicagoans that cast their ballots on the first day of early voting.
“There’s so much enthusiasm among the voters. People are going to vote earlier than normal,” Pritzker said.
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports early voting and vote-by-mail are on the rise, raising the question whether the large sums of money spent on Election Day is worthwhile.
In Chicago, 52,000 voters have requested mail ballots compared to 16,000 at this point in the election in 2016.
Jim Allen from the Chicago Board of Election stated, “For a midterm, that’s extraordinary to have triple the number of applications already, 40 days before Election Day.”
“Over 40% of the votes were cast before election day,” stated Noah Praetz from the Cook County Clerk’s Office, explaining the voting trend in Cook County two years ago.
The County Board approved a ten-year, $31 million dollar contract to provide updated voting machines throughout the suburbs.
At a time of concern about electronic meddling, officials insist new machines will be more secure.
“All the votes will go into the same scanner. We’ll have digital images of them and we’ll be able to do modern audits around here to ensure we prove that the software results are correct,” Praetz explained.
Three states, including Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, conduct all their elections by mail at a lower cost. In those states, there is not a large network of Election Day polling places.
Praetz stated that mail voting has not been as secure in the past, claiming, “Most historical fraud occurrences are in the vote by mail realm.”