Early voting in Illinois is still something of a novelty, not getting off the ground until 2006 and not really becoming a local option until Brookfield was selected as an early voting location for the 2016 presidential election.
In that early voting period and, indeed, in every period where Brookfield has served as an early voting location, voter turnout follows a pattern. On the first day, there’s a burst of enthusiasm, which trails off gradually over the following week and then ramps up to much higher voter counts in the waning days of the early voting period.
For example, in the 2016 presidential election, 410 people turned out to vote in Brookfield on the first day of early voting. That figure dipped below 400 for the next week, before gradually ticking up until the final days of early voting, with an average of 632 voters during the final three days.
In 2018 – not a presidential year – the first-day total in Brookfield was 298 voters. But the day before Election Day in 2018, on the final day of early voting in Brookfield, 759 people cast ballots.
We’re here to tell you, if you want to vote early the next few days may be your best bet not to be waiting in line for two hours or more.
The physical distancing requirement resulting from the fact we’re still in the midst of a pandemic has perhaps added to the dramatic spectacle of long lines, but what we’re seeing in 2020 is something different in terms of voter turnout.
On Oct. 19, the first day of early voting, according to the Cook County Clerk, 758 people cast ballots in Brookfield – one shy of the one-day record set in 2018 and nearly 350 more than cast ballots early on the first day in 2016.
On Tuesday morning, even before day two began, the lines around Brookfield Village Hall were just as long as the first day.
If history is any indication, toward the end of next week those lines are going to be even longer, so if you have a wish to vote early in person, you had best schedule a time in your calendar for this week.
As if 2020 couldn’t get more remarkable.