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Chicago early voting numbers dip

  • President Barack Obama has a laugh as an official checks his drivers license to verify his identity while voting early in Bronzeville.
President Barack Obama has a laugh as an official checks his drivers license… (Tribune photo )
November 05, 2012|By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye

President Obama and Mayor Emanuel did it. They voted early in Chicago.

So did 243,000 other Chicagoans, according to information provided by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. The early voting period went from Oct. 22 through Nov. 3 when ballots could be cast in person at any of the 51 early voting sites in Chicago.

The law was recently changed to allow early voting to start a week later and end two days later - much closer to Election Day.

Despite long lines to vote, the 243,108 ballots cast early this year in Chicago did not surpass the 260,735 early votes in 2008. But early voting in 2008 lasted 18 days compared to 13 days this year.

Still, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Jim Allen said in an email early voting went "really well, and the voters are definitely enthused and participating."

The grace period, which allowed people to register and vote in the same visit, also ended Saturday. The number of people who took advantage of the grace period doubled this year with 11,073 people compared to 6,475 in 2008.

The number of absentee or voting by mail ballots returned through early Sunday totaled 26,910. Another 15,000 Chicago voters applied and have yet to return their ballots. Those ballots can arrive until 14 days after the election. The 2008 election counted 31,943 mail/absentee ballots (including ones that arrived up to two weeks after Election Day).

In all, Chicago's election board received 281,091 "pre-election ballots" including early voting, grace period voting and absentee voting. Four years ago, the tally was 299,153, which again included final mail/absentee ballots.

It comes out to about 20 percent of registered voters submitting pre-election ballots this year, much like 2008 when there were slightly more registered voters in Chicago.

The polls are open on Election Day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

"We're anticipating a very solid turnout tomorrow," Allen said.

Number of registered voters

2008: 1,497,292

2012: 1,364,723

Early voting ballots

2008: 260,735

2012: 243,108

Grace period voting

2008: 6,475

2012: 11,073

Mail voting/absentee ballots

2008: 31,943 (includes 14 days after the election)

2012: 26,910

Pre-election ballots

2008: 299,153 (includes 14 days after the election for mail/absentee ballots)

2012: 281,091

lvivanco@tribune.com | @lvivanco

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