coronavirus

Chicago Election Officials Push Early Voting, 168 Election Day Polling Places to Change

Election officials also called for anyone healthy who has not recently traveled to volunteer to serve as an election judge on Tuesday, as the coronavirus outbreak in Illinois continues to impact the primary

Note: You can watch the Chicago Board of Elections news conference in the video player above beginning at around 11 a.m. CST.

Chicago election officials on Sunday said 168 election day polling places across the city would be changing as coronavirus cases in Illinois continue to rise, urging the public to take advantage of early voting across the city in its final two days.

"Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures," Chicago Board of Elections Chair Marisel Hernandez said at a news conference Sunday morning. "This is what’s happening right now with our upcoming election on Tuesday."

Since Wednesday, 168 election day polling place precinct owners informed the Board that they no longer wanted a polling place at their location, Hernandez said.

That number amounts to roughly 8% of Chicago's 2,069 election day polling places, though officials warned that more cancellations may be in store.

Twenty more coronavirus cases were announced in Illinois Saturday, bringing the total to 66. NBC 5's Chris Hush has the latest developments.

Voters should check the Board of Elections website here on Monday (allowing officials time through Sunday night to record the updates and changes), entering your address to see where your polling place will be and if it has moved.

However, the cancellations and a lack of election judges caused officials to ask that anyone able to cast their ballots on Sunday or Monday take advantage of early voting. Chicago residents can take advantage of any of the more than 50 early voting locations in the city, regardless of where they live.

Because of the extenuating circumstances surrounding coronavirus concerns, the city has extended early voting hours, now taking place from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. on Sunday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, with six locations remaining open through 7 p.m.

The Chicago Board of Elections website lists the city's lowest-traffic early voting locations, Hernandez said, offering that Sunday's best option would be the Loop "Super Site" at Clark and Lake downtown. She also reminded those choosing to vote early to keep social distancing in mind and place enough space between yourself and the voter ahead of you.

Hernandez said "a slightly above-average number" of people have backed out of serving as election judges on Tuesday, asking voters who are healthy, able-bodied and have not traveled recently to volunteer to be election judges. The position pays $230 for new judges who complete the training, a four-hour online class and four five-minute videos that are all available online.

"We do know how good and generous Chicagoans are. We know you are the first ones to help your neighbor, family member or even a stranger in times of need," Hernandez said. "And it’s in this spirit of good will and caring that three days before Election Day, we were asking our voters to think about volunteering to be an election judge close to your home."

"It’s a commitment involving a long day, waking up at 4 a.m. to get there by 5 a.m. and working until after the polls close, but it’s a deeply satisfying and rewarding experience that you will always remember," she added.

All polling places for both early voting and election will have hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and screen wipes, officials say.

Health officials on Saturday announced an additional 20 cases of coronavirus in Illinois, bringing the number of cases in the state to 66. A lack of testing in particular has led health experts nationwide to recommend that members of the public stay home as much as possible to practice social distancing and prevent the further spread of the deadly coronavirus.

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