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Illinois Voters Head To Polls Despite Coronavirus Concerns

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Peter Medlin
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"Votemobile" parked in front of a retirement home polling location in Aurora, Illinois.

Coronavirus concerns cast a shadow over the primaries on election day in Illinois. Ohio canceled their polling locations.

Election judges in DeKalb and Aurora were both pleasantly surprised with the turnout.

In Chicago, midday voter totals were around half of what they were during the 2016 primary.

Jacob Chan is an NIU student voting in DeKalb. He said he saw the difference at his polling location.

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Credit Peter Medlin
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Another mobile polling location at an Aurora nursing home.

"I was gonna come out because it's important, but the biggest impact is that it's empty," said Chan.

Election judges said they have seen some voters in masks or gloves, and that many came with their own pens and sanitizers.

In DeKalb, two registration sites closed due to election judges not able to come in. In Cook County, 10% of judges didn't come in because of concerns.

That news drove Will Sitton to sign up to be a judge.

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Credit Peter Medlin
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Signs in Barb City Manor point voters away from residents of the retirement home.

“I actually volunteered last minute to come out because I read online that a bunch of people canceled, a bunch of election volunteers didn't want to come in because they were worried,” said Sitton.

He was glad the primary happened on Tuesday. If it had been canceled, there wasn't a clear timeframe for when it could be made up.

"I think it's good that we didn't follow suit with that. I think it's important for people to have a voice and express it," said Sitton.

Unlike others, DeKalb County decided not to move their polling locations out of nursing homes.

Barb City had their polling room isolated from where residents live. They also had a sign telling voters not to go past a certain point.

Kane County had a few “votemobiles” parked in front of precincts at nursing homes so people could vote with minimal contact.

Officials across Illinois encouraged early voting to reduce crowds. Early numbers were up considerably across northern Illinois and Chicago.

 

 
 

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.