More Jackson County voters choosing to vote early - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

More Jackson County voters choosing to vote early

MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) -

More people in Jackson County are choosing not to wait until Election Day and instead to vote early this election cycle.

One week out from Election Day, Jackson County Clerk Larry Reinhardt says his office has already been very busy.

Early voting started on October 20 in the state of Illinois, and Reinhardt says early voting numbers have outpaced week-to-week numbers for the previous two elections.

Two weeks out from the last governor's election in 2010 only 750 people had voted early. Two weeks before 2012's presidential election 1120 people had already cast an early ballot.

By last Tuesday, two weeks out for 2014, 1310 early votes had already been cast in Jackson County. By this Tuesday, just seven days from November 4, Reinhardt's office had collected more than 1900 early ballots.

Reinhardt says he does not think this year's early vote will surpass the overall number of early ballots from the presidential election in 2012, but he says it's off to a good start.

Early voting continues through Saturday. County Clerks will hold special weekend hours for early voting. The Jackson County Clerk's Office in Murphysboro will be open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, November 1.

But even if you do vote early, you may not know the winner of some races until the day after the election or even after that because of possible delays in counting ballots.

Some people may vote through grace period registration. Reinhardt says a previously unregistered voter can cast a ballot at their county clerk's office through Election Day if they provide two forms of identification. Their ballot will not be added to the general stack to be counted right away. Instead, Reinhardt says the ballot is placed in a sealed envelope and set aside to be counted after a voter's address is verified. That process can take up to two weeks.

Given how close some of the races in Illinois are projected to be, Reinhardt says if a lot of people take advantage of grace period voting throughout the state – it could delay the results of some races.

Reinhardt says there could also be a potential delay in the counting of absentee ballots due to an Illinois Attorney General's opinion issued to county clerks a couple of weeks ago. Reinhardt says the AG's office has ordered county clerks not to count absentee ballots until after the polls close at 7 p.m. November 4. Reinhardt says in the past, county clerks counted absentee ballots they came in, so the new rule has the potential to create a ballot logjam and delay on election night as officials work to count ballots.

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