* As early voting, no-excuse absentee voting and same-day registration/voting become more commonplace and understood, the usage rates naturally rise. So, it may not be accurate to assume this year’s big surge in mail-in ballot requests automatically means a surge in interest. But it’s still pretty interesting because the Pritzker campaign and the state’s Democratic Party have put lots of effort into this mail-in push…
Requests for mail-in ballots in Illinois have surpassed 2014 numbers, and they’re outpacing ballot requests from two years ago, too — remarkable given that was a presidential election year. And there are still three weeks left to apply for a ballot.
In Chicago, mail-in requests are expected to overtake the all-time record set in 1944, a presidential year. That’s when the city had “tens of thousands” of voters serving in Europe and the South Pacific during World War II, Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen told POLITICO. That year, Chicago handled 116,117 mail-in applications. Fast-forward to Illinois removing the rule that voters needed an excuse to vote by mail. In 2014, there were 38,982 requests for mail-in ballots, and in 2016, 93,518. For this year’s midterms, Chicago has seen about 80,000 mail-ballot applications. “With three weeks to go, we haven’t hit our heaviest period,” Allen said.
Statewide, there have been 310,532 requests so far for mail-in ballots. That’s up from 2014, when 268,218 requests were made, and it’s expected to exceed the 370,740 requests made in 2016, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
In Cook County, 75,688 mail-ballot applications have been requested–so far. That compares with 108,000 in 2016. “We’re going to come close, and that would be significant,” Cook County Clerk David Orr told POLITICO. In 2014, 62,000 early voting ballots were sent out.
I prefer to wait until election day to vote. Part of it is my own tradition, but one excuse I’ve used for a few cycles is that scandals have a tendency to break in the final weeks and I prefer not to cast my ballot until all the oppo is in.