Election officials have urged residents to cast ballots early or by mail to avoid crowded Election Day polling places amid COVID-19 concerns.
Over 1.8 million Illinois residents have cast ballots 11 days before what some are calling one of the most important elections in U.S. history.
As of Friday morning, 1,045,381 voters from across the state had voted by mail — and that’s less than half the 2,310,132 requests for ballots.
Another 760,291 people have cast ballots in person at early voting sites across Illinois. In Chicago, 271,986 people have returned their mail ballots while 161,294 have voted early in the city.
Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections, called the early returns “pretty remarkable” considering Election Day is a little over a week away.
“I think what it says is that we should have a fairly clear picture of what the final count will be on election night, but, again, that really depends on how many of the 1.25 million ballots … are sent back … prior to Election Day to be processed,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich said he’s optimistic the “pattern of early returns will continue … but who knows?”
He expects an uptick in people requesting a mail ballot between now and Thursday since “there are always people on the fence” about whether to vote in person or by mail.
The more ballots returned by Election Day, the more likely it is tallies won’t change “drastically” as authorities count mail ballots that trickle in after the election.
Election officials at the city and state levels have urged residents to cast their ballots early or by mail if possible to avoid crowded Election Day polling places amid COVID-19 concerns.
The city dropped about 245,000 ballots in the mail in late September, which was the start of election authorities around the state sending out ballots to those who requested them.
Voters can change their minds and vote in person. A voter who decides not to use their vote-by-mail ballot needs to bring it with them to an early voting site or Election Day polling place and exchange for a regular ballot.