More early voters opting to mail in their ballots for 2019 election

More early voters opting to mail in their ballots for 2019 election

URBANA — Mail-in beats walk-in for many voters casting their ballots early in next month's election.

As of Monday, more than double the number of early voters in Champaign County had opted to vote by mail over voting early in person, according to county Clerk Aaron Ammons.

The clerk's office has also seen an upswing in the number of people requesting a vote-by-mail ballot over the 2017 consolidated election.

With today marking two weeks until election day, Ammons said his office had already received 2,208 vote-by-mail requests — compared with 2,039 total requests for the 2017 election.

Most of the vote-by-mail requests in Champaign County so far — 2,176 of them — have been sent out by the clerk's office, and 640 have been completed and mailed back. That's compared with the 268 early votes that have been cast in person.

Ammons encouraged voters to take advantage of either option to vote early but said many people seem to find the vote-by-mail option easier.

"You can vote in your own home, take the time to look up candidates, maybe even talk to your significant other," he said. "It's convenient. We're going (to) mail it to you, and all you have to do is send it back."

The vote-by-mail option was also beating out in-person early voting in Danville, where there had been 142 walk-in voters as of Monday and 282 vote-by-mail ballots mailed out, 165 of which had been filled out and returned, according to Danville Election Commission Executive Director Sandra Delhaye.

In three area counties, both walk-in and vote-by-mail balloting has been a bit on the light side.

In each of Ford and Piatt counties, for example, there had been 14 in-person early votes cast as of Monday and fewer than 30 vote-by-mail applications requested and mailed out.

"It's pretty typical," Piatt County Clerk and Recorder Jennifer Harper said. "This election, the consolidated election, just doesn't have a huge turnout."

Early voting in Champaign County as of Monday was right on pace, "or maybe a little ahead" of last year, Ammons said. "But really, the focus has been on the vote by mail."

While the consolidated elections typically aren't huge attention grabbers, Ammons said he and his office are projecting a 5-7 percent increase in total votes cast in Champaign County over the 2017 consolidated elections. That's based on lingering interest and excitement that was piqued by the 2018 general election, Ammons said.

"People are paying attention," he said.

He looks for early in-person voting to begin picking up in Champaign County when several other polling places open March 27. All those locations are universal polling places, meaning all registered voters in the county can vote at any of the locations, not just the ones closest to where they live. Ammons said.

Since early voting started Feb. 21, Champaign County voters have been able to cast votes in person early only at the county clerk's office in Urbana. But starting March 27, eight more early voting places will open in Champaign, Urbana, Mahomet, Rantoul, Tolono and St. Joseph.

Early birds

With election day two weeks away, here's a look at early voting activity throughout the area:

County By mail In person
Champaign 640 268
Vermilion* 78 57
Douglas 36 31
Piatt 27 14
Ford 0 14

* — excludes Danville

Note: Vote-by-mail totals include only the ballots that have been filled out and returned. Many more mail-in ballots have been sent to people who requested them and haven't yet been returned.

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Tags (1):Election 2019