CHICAGO (CBS) – With one day left until the midterm elections, voters have been showing up early in Cook County in record numbers, with close to 250,000 ballots already cast in Chicago alone.
Through Sunday, in all of Cook County, approximately 433,000 people have voted early, compared to just over 250,000 in the entire early voting period in 2014.
“Three major records are being broken as we speak,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr, who oversees election operations in suburban Cook County.
Orr said about 240,000 people have voted early in person in suburban Cook County for the general election. The suburbs also have seen record numbers of voter registrations and mail-in ballots for a midterm election.
According to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, approximately 205,000 people have voted early in person, compared to 113,000 in 2014. Mail-in ballots are up nearly 200 percent, with 116,000 so far this year, compared to 39,000 in 2014.
Voter registrations in the city of Chicago are up 10 percent compared to four years ago, and nowhere has the interest been greater than Welles Park, where more people have voted early than at any other site in the city.
All of the city’s 51 early voting sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, and half a dozen ward sites will be open until 7 p.m.
The final day of early voting comes one day after former President Barack Obama visited Chicago to give Democratic candidates a boost in the midterms.
Obama attended a rally for J.B. Pritzker, the frontrunner in the race for governor, other Democratic candidates for statewide office, and Congressional candidates on the ballot in Illinois. The former president tried to keep up the enthusiasm at the University of Illinois at Chicago, arguing Republican tax policies are robbing the poor to bankroll the rich.
“It’s a playbook where the privileged want to protect their power, so they’ll say whatever they can to protect their power. They’ll do whatever they can to preserve their privileges; even if it hurts the country, even if it puts people at risk,” he said.
The reason for the incredible interest in this year’s election is President Donald Trump. Unlike presidents in the past, he has made the midterm elections a referendum on himself, and that has people on both sides fired up.
“While the eight years of President Obama’s leadership vaulted us forward, the last two years of Donald Trump’s has taken us backwards,” Pritzker said.
“When you participate in the political process, you can be a check on bad behavior. When you vote, Illinois, you can choose hope over fear,” Obama said.
Meantime, Gov. Bruce Rauner made his closing argument in the Chicago suburbs on Sunday, as the Republican incumbent continued the seventh day of a statewide bus tour. Stops in Morris, St. Charles, and Orland Park all were on the agenda as Rauner stumped for votes ahead of what he called the biggest election of our lifetimes.
He blasted Pritzker and Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, and warned a Democratic sweep on Tuesday would allow Democrats to gerrymander congressional districts to their advantage after the 2020 Census.
If you still want to vote, but aren’t sure if you’re registered, you can register at every early voting site.