By Todd Thomas

Defender Contributing Reporter

Why wait until Nov. 6 to vote when you can possibly beat the crowds and give your candidates support right now by voting early? That’s what voting enthusiasts are saying this year, and early voting, which began Oct. 22, is really taking off.

In the 2008 election 31 percent of voters voted early nationwide. With that percentage expected to arch upward to 36 percent for the 2012 election. And, in Chicago 260,000 people voted early in 2008.

Democratic Party of Illinois spokesman Steve Brown spoke with the Defender about early voting.

Chicago Defender: Why are campaigners stressing early voting so much this election?

Steve Brown: Most importantly it’s the easiest way for people working in a campaign to try and make sure that they turn out the vote that is going to be supportive of their candidate, the sooner the better. I would think you’d want to do everything possible to encourage people to vote early or on Election Day. That’s what early voting is all about.

CD: Have there been efforts to stymie early voting?

SB: Politicians and elected officials in some parts have tried to slow down or eliminate the amount of time early voting is available. But you may want to ask the questions of why people want to make it harder to vote or resist making it easier to vote for a Republican official. I sure think that Democrats want to make it easier for people of all shapes and sizes to vote.

CD: Does early voting benefit one party more than another party?

SB: Early voting doesn’t favor one party over another, but we probably won’t know the answer to that question until after Election Day. It’s a benefit that can help either party.

CD: Is early voting more common, now than in previous elections?

SB: The media and the public are becoming more attuned to early voting which was really not very common, especially in Illinois before the 2000 election. Anybody interested in the democratic process would want people to vote, you don’t want to discourage.

It’s not too late to register to vote.

For citizens who are qualified to vote in the General Election but who missed the standard Oct. 9 voter-registration deadline, there is a safety net.

Every day through Nov 3 voters may register in person – and then immediately vote during that same visit.

Grace Period voters must present two forms of identification, at least one of which shows the current address.

Location and hours for Grace Period registration and voting:

Chicago Election Board

69 W. Washington St., 6th Fl.

Oct. 10 through Nov. 3

Monday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sundays: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

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