Early voting numbers exceed expectations in Jackson County, mail in ballots triple

By Kallie Cox, Editor-in-Chief

The number of early voters has nearly doubled for the 2020 election in Jackson county and the number of mail in ballots has tripled. 

In 2016, the county saw 1,436 early voters and 974 vote by mail ballots, in 2018 it saw 1,471 early voters and 1,328 vote by mail ballots, and as of publication it has seen 2168 early voters and  3490 vote by mail ballots, according to Jackson County Clerk Frank Byrd.

Early voting and mail in ballots have both been highly encouraged in Illinois since the start of the pandemic.

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Gov. JB Pritzker said in his COVID-19 update in Murphysboro on Monday  his administration has worked with the State Board of Elections as well as the Association of County Clerks  to prepare polling places and keep voters safe, but said voters are safer voting early or by mail.

“This is a year when you should take this moment to do something different and not do it on election day and we’ve made that opportunity available to everybody in the state,” Pritzker said. “You still have the opportunity to get a ballot if you want to vote by mail and of course  there are early voting locations that are open.”

Extra precautions have been taken, Pritzker said.

“We’ve encouraged all of the county clerks to follow these rules and again the State Board of Elections has made extra money available to the counties to make sure they are following those [regulations].”

Byrd said all polling places are still scheduled to be open and he will contact the voters if anything changes with their polling place.

Three polling locations in the county are changing. Carbondale 21 and Carbondale 25 are moving to Grinnell Hall at 275 E. Park St. in Carbondale and Murphysboro 2 is moving to the Jackson County Farm Bureau 220 N. 10th st. in Murphysboro at the back entrance to the facility.

Byrd said the deadline to request a mail in ballot is Oct. 29  voters can cast their ballots early at the Carbondale Civic Center on Oct. 21, 23, 26 and 27 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. or at the SIU student center Oct. 28, 29, and 30 from 10-5.

If voters wish to bring their own pens because they are worried about COVID-19, they can do so Byrd said, but they need to make sure the ink is black. He said poll workers will be given instructions on sanitizing the polling stations to ensure voter safety.

Byrd said if voters opt to use the vote center and the curbside voting option both located in the lobby of the courthouse, they need to be prepared to wait while poll workers verify their information.

More information on the Jackson County election and voting options can be found here.

Editor-in-Chief Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox.

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