Early Voting Turnout in Chicago, Cook County Surpasses Past Primaries

With less than 24 hours until polls officially open for Illinois' primary election, officials say early voting numbers in Chicago and Cook County have far surpassed those of previous midterm primaries. 

As of Sunday evening, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners reported 85,892 ballots had been cast early in the city, with one day still remaining. 

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That number exceeds the 45,013 early voters from the 2010 primary and the 36,113 total from 2014. 

In suburban Cook County, nearly 92,000 early votes were recorded by Sunday night. 

The record for the number of early votes in a gubernatorial primary election in suburban Cook County, set in 2010, was shattered last Monday with one week of early voting still remaining. 

Vote by mail applications in Chicago were also nearly five times the number reported in 2014 and almost triple the totals in 2010. 

Officials said many of those voting early were older in age and female.

Chicago's 19th Ward has so far turned out the most early voters in the city, statistics showed, and Northfield, Thornton and Wheeling townships topped the list for suburban ballots cast. 

The increase in early turnouts could be attributed to several undeniably competitive races, some of which have even garnered national attention. 

The race for governor pits incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner against Republican challenger Jeanne Ives and puts Democratic candidates J.B. Pritzker, Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss in a tough battle. 

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The race for Illinois Attorney General is also heating up with a crowded field that includes well-known politicians Kwame Raul, Jesse Ruiz and Pat Quinn.

"From the top of the ballot to the bottom, there are contests on both the Democratic and Republican sides that have generated a great deal of attention and interest among voters," Cook County Clerk David Orr said in a statement. "We've seen the impact of that interest in the number of people registered to vote in suburban Cook County, as well as the record number of people who've taken advantage of early voting and already cast their votes."

With such contentious races on the ballot, election officials are bracing for the possibility of tension Tuesday. 

“Whenever you’ve got really hot contested election - and we do have them - we want to remind: follow the 100-foot rule," Orr said. "We’ll have attorneys, field representatives and a lot of other watchers out there tomorrow.”

Polls open Tuesday beginning at 6 a.m.

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