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5,300 hit early-voting polls

Cheryl Bradford (right) hballot Lee Buslik Grayslake. He said he voted early because 'I want avoid crowd.' | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times

Cheryl Bradford (right) hand a ballot to Lee Buslik of Grayslake. He said he voted early because, "I want to avoid the crowd." | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media

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Early voting sites

Township offices serve as early voting centers as well as some other offices.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Antioch Township: 1625 Deep Lake Road, Lake Villa.

Avon Township: 433 E. Washington St., Round Lake Park.

Benton Township: 40020 N. Green Bay Road, Beach Park.

Cuba Township: 28000 W. Cuba Road, Barrington.

Ela Township: 1155 E. Route 22, Lake Zurich.

Fremont Public Library: 1170 N. Midlothian Road, Mundelein.

Grant Township: 26725 W. Molidor Road, Ingleside.

Gurnee Village Hall: 325 N. O’Plaine Road, Gurnee.

Lake County Courthouse and Administrative Complex: 18 N. County St., Waukegan.

Lake County Central Permit Facility: 500 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville.

Lake County North Shore Health Center: 1840 Green Bay Road, Highland Park.

Lake Forest City Hall: 20 E. Deerpath Road, Lake Forest.

Lake Villa Township: 37908 N. Fairfield Road, Lake Villa.

North Chicago City Hall: 1850 Lewis Ave., North Chicago.

Vernon Township: 3050 N. Main St., Buffalo Grove.

Wadsworth Village Hall: 14155 W. Wadsworth Road, Wadsworth.

Wauconda Township Community Hall: 505 W. Bonner Road, Wauconda.

Waukegan Park District Field House: 800 N. Baldwin Ave., Waukegan.

West Deerfield Township: 601 Deerfield Road, Deerfield.

Zion City Hall: 2828 Sheridan Road, Zion.

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Updated: December 22, 2012 1:56AM

Early voting took off like a rocket Monday morning and by mid morning was on it’s way to set a new record for votes cast on the first day of early voting, and in the end, doubled the old record.

People are very interested in this election,” said Lake County Clerk Willard Helander.

“It’s been extremely busy. The judges are reporting that it has never started so busy,” she said. Within a 10-minute time period at mid morning, the vote total went from 2,497 to 2,661. “If this keeps going, we will go over 3,000 for the busiest first day ever,” she said. At 4:30 p.m. when the voting centers closed, a total of 5,383 voters had cast their ballots.

One of the reasons is that early voting will only go on for two weeks starting Monday instead of three because of a legislative change. “It’s pent up demand,” said Helander. The change was made as a cost saving, which it definitely is because you are not staffing the sites for the third week.

While Highland Park is usually the busiest early voting site, it was eclipsed by mid morning by the Vernon Township office, which saw 257 early voters. The North Shore Health Center in Highland Park was next at 200 and Fremont Liberty followed closely with 188. Avon Township had recorded 163, Cuba Township 115, Waukegan’s two sites had 142 total, North Chicago 51 and Antioch Township had 119, “the busiest its ever been,” said Helander.

There had been some complaints in the morning with a man complaining about the machine not working at the Benton Township office. It was replaced because the rollers would not pull the ballot into the machine. Ballots were placed in a lock box to be entered when the new machine arrived or the voter could have the ballot voided and they could come back later and vote.

Another complaint at that voting center was made by Ramona Withrow, 55, of Winthrop harbor. She said there was an older man that was an election judge that told people to take their ballot out of the privacy sleeve when putting their ballots into the machine.

“He was also walking right behind you when you were trying to do your voting. That’s intimidating the voters. We all know each other around here,” she said. She did not know who the man was and did not get his name. Her complaint was forwarded to Helander.

A voting machine was replaced in the Wauconda Township offices as well.

One person came to vote at the clerk’s office, which in the past allowed anyone no matter where they lived in the county to vote at the main office in Waukegan. This year, they could not do that because they were required by law to have two offices open for just Waukegan voting. One man did come in to vote, and while he could not vote and feed his ballot into a machine, he was able to vote “by mail in person” at the office.

“To avoid lines, I would vote before Saturday. Saturdays are going to be busy,” she said.

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