Early voting kicks off in Illinois: 'I am going to make sure my vote counts'

Voting wristbands distributed in Chicago.
(Image credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Thursday was the first day of early voting in Illinois, and officials in Lake County were surprised by how many people showed up to cast their ballots.

At the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan, the first voter arrived at 8 a.m., an hour before doors opened, and by mid-afternoon, at least 300 people had voted, Lake County Clerk Robin O'Connor told The Washington Post. At some points, the wait to get inside was more than two hours, and now that officials know there is demand, a fourth voting machine will be in operation on Friday.

Voters stood six feet apart and had no problems waiting, O'Connor said, adding, "They're courteous, they're being polite, they're following the rules, it's beautiful. It's truly beautiful." Lake County has sent 126,000 mail-in ballots to voters, which is quadruple the number of people who voted by mail in November 2016, and O'Connor said officials expect "well over 100,000" ballots to be returned.

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One person in line told the Post he decided to vote early because he did not trust the mail to deliver his ballot, while Socorro Herrera, 36, said she came out to "set an example for people," adding, "We are all busy, but you can vote, too. I want my young kids to know this is important — we all lead busy lives. It's a privilege, it really is." Toby Wong, 68, told the Post she is an immigrant and takes "voting rights seriously. I wasn't going to let fear about the coronavirus stop me. I am going to make sure my vote counts."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for TheWeek.com. Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and EW.com, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.