Early voting down vs. 2016 at Oak Park village hall

Decrease of 16.45 percent in early votes cast

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By Stacey Sheridan

Staff Reporter

The 2020 presidential election is one of the most highly anticipated races in recent times. Although early voting in Oak Park doesn't seem to reflect that. The number of votes cast during the first week of early voting at Oak Park village hall was down 16.45 percent from the first week of early voting in the 2016 presidential election.

In early voting any voter registered in suburban Cook County can vote in Oak Park or one of other regional sites set up by the county.

This year, early voting at the Oak Park site began on Monday, Oct. 19 with a total of 620 votes cast that day. From that day to Sunday, Oct. 25, Oak Park village hall had a total of 4,608 votes cast, an average of about 658 votes cast per day. Friday, Oct. 23 had the highest number of votes of that seven-day period, ringing in at 793 votes, according to the Cook County Clerk's Office.

Four years earlier, 5,515 votes were cast in Oak Park in the first week of early voting, according to data from the Cook County Clerk's Office. 

Last week started off strong with 864 and 868 votes cast on Oct. 24 and Tuesday, Oct. 25, respectively. Oak Park village hall had its biggest day Saturday, Oct. 29, with a total of 909 votes cast but only 579 votes were cast at village hall the following day – the week's lowest day.

Oak Park Village Clerk Vicki Scaman believes COVID-19 is the reason for the drop in early voters this presidential election year. The fear of contracting the virus by spending hours waiting in line with large numbers of other people may have dissuaded voters from casting their ballots in the first week. 

COVID-19 has necessitated the village of Oak Park to implement certain safety precautions so as not to cause the virus to spread further.

Many voters this year have also opted to vote via mail-in ballot. However, the Cook County website is behind in tracking the status of mail-in ballots, due to the increase in mail-in ballots, according to Scaman. For those who have submitted mail-in ballots but have not gotten confirmation of their receipt through the website, Scaman says to be patient. 

Attacks on the legitimacy of mail-in voting have caused some would-be mail-in voters to distrust the U.S. Postal Service and opting for the secured ballot drop box.

"We've been seeing more and more people bringing in their mail-in ballot and choosing to turn them in and vote in person," said Scaman. 

In spite of the delays, Scaman asks people to be patient if they come into contact with short-tempered polling judges and to remember that the judges are putting their own health at risk to facilitate voting. 

"All of the judges that I have spoken to, while very tired, are also very excited to see the number of people that are voting," said Scaman. "And so, we're grateful for every person who's come out to vote."

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Reader Comments

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Lisa Wilkinson  

Posted: October 30th, 2020 10:47 AM

Voting in Elmwood Park addendum: yes, it was easy and the line was short, however, the social distancing was minimal at best and the voting stations were barely 3' apart. Everyone was masked up, so that's good.

Lisa Wilkinson  

Posted: October 28th, 2020 6:59 PM

I hope when voting is done, we'll get a true sense of voter participation in Oak Park. I voted in Elmwood Park, as did my husband and several friends; others voted in Cicero. Lines were nearly nonexistent. I'm not complaining about the hardworking election judges and volunteers, I'm only saying votes logged at Village Hall might not be the most accurate tally. I hope everyone votes!

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 28th, 2020 2:28 PM

Oak Park, get your voting correct. The average below from William Dwyer Jr. would mean 4 hours to vote when Maywood has it moving. Oak Park, you have to do better then this if you want the turn out. Thank you to people who are willing to make the drive to Maybrook even when local voting is a problem

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: October 28th, 2020 2:03 PM

FWIW, I went to the OP Village Hall yesterday, parked more than a block away, got in line, and left after not one of the 39 people standing in front of me, outside in the Courtyard, had moved inside over a six or seven minute period. Drove over to Maybrook, parked within 100 feet of the door, waited 12 minutes, and was ushered inside and allowed to vote. 24 minutes from parking to departing.

Bill Maxwell  

Posted: October 28th, 2020 1:57 PM

You get what you don't vote for and if you think it is a done deal without voting then enjoy the freedom you are not participating in

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