Whatever your opinion is on the results of last week’s General Election, one thing that did work – in fact worked so well that it ought to be expanded – was early voting in suburban Cook County.
According to figures provided by Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office, more than 350,000 ballots were cast in suburban Cook County and at the clerk’s downtown location in the two-week period between Oct. 24 and Nov. 7.
That was not only a record number of early voters in Cook County, it smashed the previous high of about 230,000 early voters in 2012, the last presidential election.
For the first time in a long time, the village of Brookfield served as an early voting location and it was a hit with residents and those is nearby communities.
A total of 6,632 ballots were cast in Brookfield during early voting. That’s an average of 442 ballots per day, with a high of 702 on the day before Election Day.
Making voting easier and accessible to more people is what this country is all about. For all of the hysteria conjured up by Donald Trump and many of his supporters prior to the election – now strangely silent – the reality is that voter fraud is incredibly rare. Instead of making voting more difficult, which is the result of legislation across the nation mandating voter IDs and eliminating polling places, Cook County has decided to make voting more accessible.
There were more than 50 early voting location scattered across the Chicago suburbs in 2016, more than a dozen of them new locations. The only criticism of the county’s effort to increase voting opportunities is that there were still long lines at many early voting locations due to the small number of electronic machines available to voters.
Perhaps a solution is to increase the number of machines in the future or simply expand the program to include more locations.
At any rate, the clerk’s push to encourage more people to get out and vote has been a tremendous success in Cook County and we encourage continued efforts in that direction. The right to vote ought to be sacred and open to all who qualify for that right. The qualifications are simple – being a citizen and being 18 years old.
This nation doesn’t need roadblocks to the ballot box, it needs more paths to participation, like Cook County’s.