JOLIET – James McCallum casts his ballot before Election Day every year because it’s easy.
“It’s always very smooth voting here,” he said, after scanning in his voting card at the Will County Clerk’s Office on Monday. “I may be so busy I forget or can’t vote on Election Day. This is more efficient.”
Monday marked the first day for early voting at places other than Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots’ office, which has introduced changes to the voting process to make it easier and more comfortable to vote before the Nov. 4 general election.
Permanent Polling Places
The biggest change to voting this year is extended hours at several permanent polling places.
“It’s all about making voting convenient,” Voots said.
The permanent polling places are located throughout Will County and are available to any registered or unregistered resident.
The permanent polling places are at Voots’ office at 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet; the Joliet Park District at 3000 W. Jefferson St., Joliet; the city of Naperville at 400 S. Eagle St., Naperville; Wheatland Township at 4232 Tower Court, Naperville; and the village of Bolingbrook at 375 W. Briarcliff Road, Bolingbrook.
Previously, only Voots’ office was a designated permanent polling place.
Voots said Will County is required by state law to provide additional permanent polling places this election season because of an increase in county population.
While anyone can vote early at the permanent locations, only registered voters can vote at local municipal clerks’ offices. This year, grace period voting allows unregistered voters to vote at the permanent polling places up through Election Day.
Cities and villages with early and absentee voting services for registered voters include Braidwood, Wilmington, Channahon, Elwood, Frankfort, Homer Glen, Manhattan, Mokena, Monee, New Lenox, Peotone, Plainfield, Romeoville and Shorewood.
Townships with the same voting services are Crete, Frankfort, Homer, Lockport, Troy and Washington townships.
To aid in voting, the clerk’s office has mailed sample voting cards to every Will County household.
The cards have candidates specific to the districts and positions of each particular household. They also include instructions on how to register to vote absentee, early or at the booths on Election Day.
Voots said the early voting process is much different than the last gubernatorial race four years ago, when early and absentee voting accounted for 20,171 of the 194,490 ballots cast, or 10.37 percent.
“The laws for early voting were different during the last governor’s race,” Voots said. “Years ago, you didn’t have as many polling places as today.”
Plainfield resident Ron Drumm participated in early voting for the first time Monday and said the process was much more efficient and less time-consuming than Election Day.
“You get through the line quicker,” Drumm said. “It was much easier this time. You’ve got to voice your opinion by voting.”
Joliet resident Phyllis Keca, who remembers when she was feet away from President John F. Kennedy at a rally in Joliet, said she votes early because Election Day may not present the best circumstances.
“I don’t know if there will be bad weather,” she said. “I did spend time studying the candidates, but sometimes it’s difficult to know.”
There are several ways to vote before Nov. 4.
Absentee voting allows registered voters to cast an absentee ballot without question through mail or in person.
Ballots must be mailed before Oct. 30, while registered voters can vote absentee up through the day before the election.
Unregistered voters must register and vote on the same day at a permanent polling place through Nov. 4. Grace period ballots cast on Nov. 3 or 4 are considered provisional and subject to an election judge’s review.
Voters are encouraged to request an absentee ballot by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Will County clerk’s office at 815-740-4632.
The addresses of all early voting places can be found at www.thewillcountyclerk.com.