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Early voting in DuPage exceeds expectations
By Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/21/2008 12:33 PM

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More DuPage County voters showed up in the first seven days of early voting this year than in the entire 16-day period in November 2006.

Granted, it's comparing apples to oranges since there was no presidential election in 2006, but the numbers have election commission officials hopeful they'll get more than 10 percent of the electorate to cast a ballot before Nov. 4.

Election commission officials reported 21,694 ballots were cast between Oct. 13 and Oct. 19. During early voting in 2006, a total of 21,232 votes were cast.

"I thought we would probably start with 12,000 the first week, then climb," said election commission Assistant Executive Director Doreen Nelson.

The commission has just 15 polling sites this year compared to 18 in 2006. Nelson said they've had to add voting machines at Naperville and Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, two high-volume polling sites.

Naperville led polling sites with 3,058 ballots in the first week, even though it was closed Sunday. Naperville is averaging 510 votes cast each day. Naperville's Will County voters have cast 421 ballots in the first week, City Clerk Pam LeFeber said.

Polling sites at Yorktown Center in Lombard, the DuPage Election Commission at the county administration building in Wheaton and Downers Grove village hall also are among the busiest. Voters looking for short lines should head to West Chicago where the Wayne and Winfield township offices are experiencing the lowest turnout, followed by the Butler Government Center in Oak Brook.

While election officials are calling early voting a success, members of the DuPage Chapter of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project are complaining that some safeguards in place on Election Day are lacking during early voting.

"There have been reports of people showing up to vote only to find they have been purged from the voter rolls," said chapter co-chairwoman Jean Kaczmarek. "Some of these people had voted in the 2008 primary and some of these people have recently registered and arrived with verification."

Nelson said problems have been few, but admitted there has been a lag getting newly registered voters into the system. Early voting ends Oct. 30. Nelson said they expect a large turnout the last day.