Early voting on the rise in Peoria

By WEEK Producer

October 14, 2010 Updated Oct 14, 2010 at 9:36 PM CDT

It's almost three weeks to election day. But Peorian Bonnie Squyres has decided to vote early.

"I have a medical condition that's going to require surgery in November and I'm also going to be doing some traveling," said Squyres.

The convenience of voting early has gotten others hooked too.

Bill Grady and his wife travel each November. They used to vote absentee, but say voting early is better.

"Sometimes they can get lost in the mail," said Grady. "This way you're pretty sure when you physically hand it to somebody and they've got it in their hands. We feel more confident about the process."

Peoria ranks in the top 3 in the state of Illinois in early voting. During the 2008 presidential election about 30-percent of the people who voted here voted early.

Early voting is an additional expense for the election commission - about $10,000. Executive director Tom Bride says while it used to reduce the number of absentee ballots they had to mail out, it doesn't anymore.

"The problem with that is we had a change in the law this year where there's now a no-excuse absentee," said Bride. "Our absentees are actually up this year because of the no-excuse absentee."

Bride says in states like Texas response to early voting has been as high as 70-percent. Election judge Pat Kelch predicts someday more people will vote early than on election day.

"Its not as crowded. You get through quicker and you can get help when you need it," said Kelch.

Early voting in Peoria ends October 28th.

For more information on times and locations for early voting contact your local election commission.