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It's Election Day: Polls Are Open Despite COVID-19 Risk

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Polls are open, even though far fewer voters than usual are expected to turn out for today’s primary election because of coronavirus concerns.

About 540,000 people cast early voting ballots as of midday Monday — that’s up 25 percent from the 2016 primary, which had been record-setting. And 294,000 ballots were requested, which is up about 40 percent from 2016.

Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the State Board of Elections, said Illinois opted to proceed with the primary despite the threat of coronavirus for voters because it is unclear when the risk of COVID-19 will be diminished.

“Local election authorities statewide have gone to great lengths to make sure that they have hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes — that election judges are told about proper CDC recommendations for keeping hands clean,” he said.

Some counties have reported a shortage of election judges, including Sangamon. 

Polls throughout the state will close at 7 p.m.

Live voting in Illinois is in contrast to Ohio, which pushed back its March 17 primary until June.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is news editor and equity and justice beat reporter for NPR Illinois, where she has been on the staff since 2014 after Illinois Issues magazine’s merger with the station. She joined the magazine’s staff in 1998 as projects editor and became managing editor in 2003. Prior to coming to the University of Illinois Springfield, she was an education reporter and copy editor at three local newspapers, including the suburban Chicago Daily Herald, She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in English from UIS.
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