Early voting available at OP village hall

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Other than indifference, those intending to vote in the upcoming primary election have no excuse to miss out. Starting this past Monday, Oak Park Village Hall is offering early voting to any Cook County suburbanites interested. River Foresters too.

The service was first introduced before the 2006 primary election. About 31,000 voters took advantage of early voting that year at 32 different locations, according to the Cook County Clerk.

The service is available at 123 Madison St. from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Touch-screen polling is the only option available. Registered voters must bring a valid photo ID (driver's license, state ID, or passport). Early voting is also available on Martin Luther King Day next Monday during the regular weekday hours. Oak Park is one of 44 early voting sites in suburban Cook County, including nearby Berwyn, Cicero and Melrose Park.

Early voting ends Jan. 31. Absentee voting will be held Feb. 1, 2 and 4 for people out-of-town, in the hospital, or with other valid reasons for not being able to reach their polling place. No excuse is required for early voting.

The actual election is Feb. 5. Those voting that day must report to their nearby polling precinct location, of which there are 58 in Oak Park.

About 500 new voters registered in Oak Park this year and 170 voters have taken advantage of the early service in Oak Park so far this week, senior administrative clerk Linda Barajas said Wednesday. Traffic has been slow, but she expects it to pick up in the final week, as it did during the previous election.

"We're going to be swamped; I can guarantee it," Barajas said. "Usually when it gets to be the last day before early voting ends, we get mobbed with people."

The village is seeing an influx of younger voters, with the majority of the 500 newbies being around 18, Barajas said.

By Illinois law, voters must select a party preference in the primaries. Voters who request a non-partisan ballot will receive one devoid of candidtates, according to a press release from the Cook County Election Department. Party choice has no effect on a voter's ballot in November's Presidential Election, the release noted.

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