Early voting a big draw in Orland Park
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org October 22, 2012 12:44PM
Early voting began this morning at the Orland Township office. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Where to vote early
Cook County (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays)
Alsip Village Hall, 4500 W. 123rd St.
Bridgeview courthouse, 10220 S. 76th Ave.
Calumet Township Community Center, 12633 S. Ashland Ave.
Chicago Heights City Hall, 1601 Chicago Road
Lemont Library, 50 E. Wend St
Markham Courthouse, 16501 S. Kedzie Ave.
Matteson Village Hall, 4900 Village Commons
Oak Forest City Hall, 15440 S. Central Ave.
Oak Lawn Village Hall, 9446 S. Raymond Ave. (open Sunday)
Palos Heights administration building, 7607 College Drive
Park Forest Village Hall, 350 Victory Blvd.
Will County (Mondays through Fridays; hours vary)
Will County clerk’s office, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet
Crete Township office, 1367 Wood St.
Frankfort Township office, 11000 W. U.S. 30, Frankfort (open Saturday)
Homer Township office, 14350 W. 151st St.
Lockport Township office, 222 E. Ninth St. (open Saturday)
New Lenox Township office, 1100 S. Cedar Road
Frankfort Village Hall, 432 W. Nebraska St.
Homer Glen Village Hall, 14933 S. Founders Crossing
Manhattan Village Hall, 245 S. State St.
Mokena Village Hall, 11004 W. Carpenter St.
New Lenox Village Hall, 1 Veterans Parkway
Park Forest Village Hall, 350 Victory Blvd.
Peotone Village Hall, 208 E. Main St.
No robocalls from Will County
Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots wants voters to know that her office is not making robocalls encouraging people to vote by absentee ballot. She said constituents have informed her they are receiving automated phone calls and flyers in the mail regarding absentee ballots. She said they are not coming from her office.
“We don’t call people,” Voots said. The only items her office mails out are voter registration cards and sample ballots.
Updated: November 24, 2012 6:11AM
It didn’t matter that the third and final presidential debate was scheduled for Monday night; nothing that could be said was going to sway the hundreds of Southlanders who showed up earlier in the day in Orland Park for the start of early voting.
Their minds definitely were made up as they cast votes for federal and state officials ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
By 5 p.m., 932 votes were cast in Orland Township, making it the busiest location in suburban Cook County.
“Orland is almost always the busiest by far,” Cook County Clerk David Orr said.
That the presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney is too close to call provided an impetus this year.
“Early voting means the faster I can vote Obama out of office ... I couldn’t get here any faster,” said Joel Mondry, who always votes early.
“We knew a long time ago who we were voting for. We couldn’t wait,” said his wife, Nancy Mondry, as they exited the polling place in the Orland Township office Monday morning. “This election will be a big one.”
Pat Skarzynski, who will be out of town on Election Day, said early voting is easier than voting by absentee ballot. She, too, already had made up her mind — to give President Barack Obama another four years “to try to get the job done.”
For many, the opportunity to cast a ballot early is a matter of convenience. They had the day off, the weather at least started out nice, and they wanted to avoid longer lines on Election Day. Many also planned to skip the final debate and tune in to the Bears game Monday night.
Orr and Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots both said early voting sites were very busy throughout the day.
“People are ready to vote,” Voots said, adding that folks of all ages were “lined up at the door” Monday morning.
The first couple of hours at the Orland Township hall, 14807 Ravinia, saw a constant — but moving — line, as more than 300 people voted in that span.
One voter timed the process and announced that it took her 27 minutes from the time she walked in the door until she left the voting booth.
Even though he was at the end of a long line, William Brown said it was “better than cramming all voters into one day.”
“There’s a better chance of cheating if it’s all in one day,” he said.
Virginia Williams agreed.
“There is so much going on on Election Day, it’s hard to watch it all,” she said. It was her first time voting early.
“I have an opinion and I need to speak my opinion. This world is awful. I want Romney to win,” she said.
Betty Aspel, a fomer election judge, said if she can, she avoids Election Day.
“Early voting makes it easier on the judges. I have no doubt about that,” she said.
Early voting is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays through Nov. 3.
The early period was shortened to 13 from 20 days this year by state law, given that most people vote in the final few days, Orr said.
In Orland Park, local officials expected large numbers of early voters, prompting the move of the polling place across the street from village hall to the township hall, township office manager Mary Hastings said.
She said she fielded 500 calls about early voting last week and found people waiting at the door long before the polls opened.
“That’s good. People are doing what they are supposed to be doing,” she said. “It was just as crazy four years ago.”
Orr predicted a healthy early voting turnout. The only glitches Monday were “longer lines than I would like,” the need for additional judges, and a few equipment issues, he said.
In the 2008 presidential election, 21.4 percent of the suburban Cook County voters — 226,084 of them — cast their ballots early, Orr said.
Introduced in November 2006, early voting is a “popular, convenient option for any registered voter who is worried about Election Day scheduling conflicts, long lines or bad weather,” Orr said. “You can pick the time and place to vote that works best for you.
“Our goal is to make it convenient. We are one of the few countries that vote on a work day,” he said.
Despite the convenience, it’s difficult to prove that early voting increases overall voter turnout, Orr said, because “no two elections are the same.”