Ready, set, vote: Early balloting for March 20 primary begins today

Ready, set, vote: Early balloting for March 20 primary begins today

Early voting for the March 20 primary election begins at 8 a.m. today in Champaign and Vermilion counties, at the Danville Election Commission and at most area county clerk offices.

Some election authorities around the state — including McLean and Ford counties, the Bloomington Election Commission and Cook County — are delaying the start of early voting until various judicial decisions are made on candidate ballot changes.

But voting will begin today in Champaign, Vermilion, Piatt and Douglas counties, authorities said Wednesday.

Registered voters also can vote by mail, Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten noted, by calling his office at 217-384-3724, by emailing his office at mail@champaigncountyclerk.com or by filling out a request to vote by mail form on the county clerk's website.

No excuse is needed to vote early, Hulten said.

"Voters can begin voting today, by mail or in person, for any reason and take advantage of the convenience," he said.

For now, early voting in Champaign County is available only at the county clerk's office at 1776 E. Washington St., Urbana, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Voting hours and locations will expand the week before the election, though. The county clerk's office will be open until 7 p.m. every weeknight. And eight other remote voting sites will open on March 13, a week before Election Day, and will offer early voting the Saturday and Sunday before Election Day.

Some election authorities are delaying early voting for two or three weeks. In McLean County, it won't start until Feb. 20. In suburban Cook County, it won't start until March 5.

But in most downstate election jurisdictions, the only ballot challenge pending is whether Democrat Scott Drury can appear as a candidate for attorney general. A judicial decision on his appeal to remain on the ballot isn't expected until Friday at the soonest.

In Champaign County, Hulten said, Drury's name is on the Democratic ballot.

"We have included Mr. Drury on the ballot, which was the status of the certification we received from the State Board of Elections when we were doing ballot creation," he said. "They have since sent us a certification removing him and sent another reinstating him, so he is on our ballot right now.

"As we do when we have someone who has a pending objection, we also have included a write-in line in that race, even though there are no write-in candidates filed yet. The reason for that is if the court eventually removes Mr. Drury, he has the right under law to run as a write-in candidate all the way up until seven days before the election. We are prepared, I think, no matter what the court decides to do with Mr. Drury."

There will be no sign at the county clerk's office informing Democratic voters that Drury's candidacy is under judicial review, Hulten said.

"There are some jurisdictions that do that, and sometimes the State Board of Elections advises us to do that, but we did not do that, and we haven't done it in the past for candidates who have withdrawn after the deadline or have been removed after the deadline," he said. "We have confidence that voters are going to do their homework and are going to know the right thing to do."

Four to watch

N-G political insider TOM KACICH breaks down the four races on the March 20 primary ballot that he finds most interesting:

1. 13th Congressional District Democrats

Something has Democrats believing that 2018 could be the year that U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, is vulnerable. There are almost as many candidates in the primary this year (five) as there have been in the last three primaries in the 13th combined (six). And the five contenders have raised close to $1 million.

2. 101st Illinois House District Republicans

It will be interesting to see how the Republicans' vote breaks in the three-way race in this strong GOP district where Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, is retiring. It includes Champaign, Piatt, DeWitt, Macon and McLean counties, but the biggest share is in Macon County. That's the home of the best-funded candidate in the race, Dan Caulkins. Both of his opponents, Todd Henricks and Randy Keith, are from Piatt County.

3. Governor

Anybody sick of this race already? Both the Republican (Bruce Rauner, Jeanne Ives) and Democratic (J.B. Pritzker, Daniel Biss, Chris Kennedy, Bob Daiber, Tio Hardiman, Robert Marshall) contests have turned negative, and with all the money flowing into the races already, it's a virtual lock the general election campaign will be odious.

4. Attorney general

There's a two-way race for AG on the Republican ticket, and Urbana attorney Erika Harold is the favorite over Gary Grasso of Burr Ridge. If Harold wins in March and again in November — along with current State Treasurer Mike Frerichs, a Democrat — Champaign County will be the home of two of the state's six constitutional officers. That has never happened before.

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Tags (1):election 2018
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