ROGERS PARK — Democracy needed some brute force Tuesday morning when the owners of a Rogers Park pizzeria being used as a polling place didn't show up.
The Chicago Police and Fire Dept. had to break down the door at Leona's Restaurant on Sheridan Road to let voters inside, officials said.
"There was an issue with a proprietor," said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. "The owner didn't show up. We had to bust the door down."
The Leona's at 6935 N. Sheridan Road, in the 9th Precinct of the 49th Ward, was one of the offbeat sites selected as a polling place in Tuesday's election.
Ted Cox outlines some of the offbeat polling places across Chicago:
"The new owners of Leona's did not arrange to have anyone let the election judges into the building early this morning, leaving both election judges and voters stranded outside," said Ald. Joe Moore (49th) in an email sent to constituents Tuesday afternoon.
"Finally, the Police and Fire Department were called and 'broke into' the restaurant. The election judges set up the polling equipment as quickly as possible and voting in the precinct began by 7:20 a.m."
Moore confirmed that "the polling place will remain open for an extra hour to accommodate those voters who were unable to wait this morning," meaning it would remain open until 8 p.m.
The election board kept polls open until 8 p.m. at three other locations as well, affecting voters in five precincts. According to Allen, two judges said they weren't prepared at the start of the day and advised voters to cast their ballots at 69 W. Washington Blvd. instead at a polling place in a condominium in the 36th Precinct of the 46th Ward at 3550 N. Lake Shore Drive.
Judges were slow to locate supplies at a condominium at 1700 E. 56th St. in the 5th Ward, delaying voting in the 35th and 41st precincts.
The polling place was not set up until almost 8 a.m. at Soka Gakkai International USA, 1455 S. Wabash Ave., in the 3rd Ward, delaying voters in the 25th and 39th precincts.
Again, the election board intended to keep those four polling places open until 8 p.m.
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