People taking advantage of early voting

By WEEK Producer

October 24, 2012 Updated Oct 24, 2012 at 6:33 PM CDT

PEKIN, Ill. -- The line was out the door during the lunch hour Wednesday at the Tazewell County Clerk's Office.

People were waiting patiently to vote almost two weeks before election day.

"We're going to be taking my mother and step-father to South Carolina," said Alan Garrison, explaining why he and his wife were voting early. "They're going to be spending the winter there. We would get back the day of the voting or the day before and we decided we didn't want to take a chance and miss our chance to vote."

There are almost as many reasons for voting early as there are early voters. And with only one location to cast an early ballot in Tazewell County, the supervisor of elections there reports a steady stream of traffic.

"We've been very busy," said Moira Hartley. "We had 168 on Monday, 286 on Tuesday and 68 by 10:15 this morning."

They've also fielded calls from voters requesting additional locations for early voting in future elections. The Tazewell County Clerk's Office plans to look into that possibility.

Meanwhile, Peoria County has more than a dozen early voting locations and boasts one of the highest early voting participation rates in the state.

"We have 54,000 registered voters and four years ago, in the last presidential race, we had 25 percent of those voters cast their ballots early," said Peoria County Clerk Steve Sonnemaker.

During the first two days of early voting this time around, 1,400 ballots had already been cast and 1,300 more people had voted absentee.

But Sonnemaker says there will always be people who insist on waiting until election day.

"Maybe they haven't totally made up their minds whatever the reason may be. We certainly will be at all of our precincts ready to serve the public on election day."

The last day for early voting is November 3, the Saturday before election day.