Voters swarm Brookfield to cast ballots early

Lines wrap around three sides of village hall, waits of almost 2 hours

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

Lauren Sapienza is due to deliver a baby in two weeks, but that didn't stop her for waiting in line for nearly two hours to cast her ballot for U.S. president and other state and federal offices on the morning of Oct. 19, the first day of early voting, at the Brookfield Village Hall.

Sapienza arrived at the village hall at 8:15 a.m., 15 minutes before the doors opened, but the line already wrapped around three sides of the village hall. But she didn't let that, or the chilly weather, deter her. 

"It's an important election. I believe my vote counts and I was scared about mail in voting," said Sapienza after finally casting her vote at about 10 a.m. 

Sapienza, 39, was determined to vote on Monday because she didn't know when her baby would decide to be born.

"I don't know what's going to come," Sapienza said.

Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave., is one of 50 early voting locations in suburban Cook County that opened on Monday, and many residents of Brookfield and neighboring towns didn't waste any time to go there to cast their votes. 

Others came to the village hall to drop off ballots they had received in the mail, something they could do without waiting in line. 

Twelve voting stations were set up at the village hall, two more than typical in the past. By 10:30 a.m., nearly 100 people were waiting in line to vote and the line continued to wrap around the building for hours.

When the dust settled on Monday, 758 people had cast their ballots in Brookfield, while another 536 cast ballots in nearby Lyons – some heading there after seeing the line in Brookfield.

That was one ballot short of the one-day early voting record of 759 in Brookfield, set the day before the Nov. 6, 2018 general election and exceeding the highest total from the 2016 presidential election by more than 100 votes.

In 2016, 410 people cast ballots early in Brookfield on the first day of early voting. In 2018, just 296 voters came out the first day.

After that busy first day, the line of voters on Oct. 19 bent around the corner of the village hall to the police station entrance before 8 a.m., a half hour before the polls opened for the second day of early voting in Brookfield. By 8:20 a.m., the line was beginning to wrap all the way around the back to the northwest corner of the building.

Sapienza declined to say who she voted for, but she gave a few clues, saying that she was a big supporter of women's rights and that waiting in line for nearly two hours while nine months pregnant was very worth it for women and children and families. 

She was surprised the line was so long before voting had even started.

"I thought there was going to be a line, but if I got here early I thought it wouldn't be that big of a deal," Sapienza said.

But she said that waiting in line wasn't too bad. 

"People were very nice; I sat on the sidewalk," Sapienza said. 

Evan and Dani Roberts, who were waiting in line to vote with their 2-year-old daughter in tow, were there to vote for Joe Biden for president.

"He's more truthful," Evan Roberts said. "I don't know if we have enough time to talk about all the things I don't like about the current president. I think his response to COVID has been a disaster. Trump is very divisive. He's like a child; the name calling and the constant lies. That's a huge problem."

The Roberts say that they usually vote early and they figured the line would be shorter than on Election Day. They didn't want to wait another day to vote.

"We feel the importance to vote this year more than ever," Evan Roberts said.

The young married couple said they were dismayed by the current state of the country and wanted a better world for their daughter.

"There's a lot happening in the country right now and we have to look out for each other," said Dani Roberts. "There's too much hatred and there's a lot of matters that are just not being taken seriously."

They did not want to take a chance voting by mail.

"I'd rather vote early," Dani Roberts said. "The president is trying to cause a lot of chaos."

They said that they would wait double the time that they did if they had to, just noting that they just needed to done in time to make a 1 p.m. appointment.

David Urso also thought it was worth it to stand in line to vote.

"An hour and 20 minutes is worth the wait," Urso said after finally voting at about 10:30 a.m.

Urso and a companion stopped at Dunkin Donuts before voting. Urso voted to re-elect President Donald Trump.

"I have small children and I care about the future of this country, and I don't really care for the way the Democrats and liberals are taking it right now," Urso said. "I don't care for the direction that it's heading."

Urso said that he wanted to keep the country capitalistic.

"I feel that jobs need to stay here in this country and we need to continue to keep bringing them back and not sell out this country to foreign entities like we seem to be doing under Democratic control," Urso said.

Whomever people supported, voter at Brookfield Village Hall on Monday were anxious to cast their votes, and they didn't mind waiting to do it.

"It was very exciting waiting with a lot of people who were also excited to vote," Sapienza said.

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