Today kicks off early voting for the April 5 consolidated election. Early voting, which DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder John Acardo said has been hugely popular, is for those who wish to vote before election day.
Early voting begins today at the DeKalb County Legislative Center, 200 N. Main St. in Sycamore and ends March 31.
Acardo said he and his staff have been preparing for the election for months; in January, local election officials needed to submit names to the clerk’s office. The consolidated election is held to elect officials to municipal boards or councils, library and school boards and other local government offices.
Early voting is from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 8:30 a.m.-noon on Saturdays. Grace period voting began Wednesday and ends March 29. Grace period voting allows voters who miss the deadline to register to vote to register and vote at the same time.
Additionally, DeKalb County received $112,000 in federal grant money from the Help America Vote Act to improve equipment and other aspects of the election process, Acardo has said. The county clerk’s office is in the initial stages of developing a mobile early voting unit, and the grant funding will be used to increase accessibility to early voting.
Acardo said the office expanded early voting hours to accommodate voters’ work and other schedules. He said they have seen a 214 percent increase in early voting since it began in DeKalb County five years ago.
Acardo said they’re seeing a significant increase in demand for early voting because people can vote on their own schedules. He said it’s certainly a good way to encourage more people to vote.
Matthew Streb, a political scientist at Northern Illinois University, said early voting was designed to expand the electorate, with the hope that it would inspire those who don’t typically vote to exercise their right. That hasn’t happened, however.
“The main reason why it’s so popular is convenience,” Streb said.
Early in-person voting or no-excuse absentee voting allow people to cast a ballot when they want. In general, it’s been incredibly popular, Streb said.
“It’s really just made it easier for people who already vote to do so,” Streb said.
With early voting, some have pointed out those voters are out of luck if a scandal breaks late in a candidate’s campaign and they are unable to change their vote. But most early voters tend to be strong partisan voters, Streb said.
Acardo said voters should bring their voter cards or another form of identification with a current address on it when voting.
For more information, call the DeKalb County Clerk’s Office at 815-895-7149.