THE LOOP — Saturday will be the last day to both register and vote early in the city's runoff election.
Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, issued a reminder Friday that city residents can still register and vote, but same-day registration will not be available on Tuesday, when voters go to the polls to elect a mayor and 18 aldermen.
Similarly, absentee ballots must be postmarked no later than Monday. The city has sent out 54,541 absentee ballots, with the deadline to request one having passed.
According to Neal, early voting is up 22 percent from the Feb. 24 election, with Friday and Saturday still to go, and requests for absentee ballots have more than doubled.
Chicago Public Schools, Catholic schools and other districts are off next week, and many city residents figure to be out of town on spring-break vacations.
Saturday will be the last day to vote at the city's 51 early voting sites: one in each ward and another at the board's main offices at 69 W. Washington Blvd. The sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Those who have not yet registered can still do so by presenting two forms of identification, at least one with the current address. Acceptable forms of ID include a driver's license, state ID, passport, pay stub, utility bill, bank statement, government check or some other form of government correspondence.
Voters who newly register, however, must vote at that time; they cannot opt to vote at the polls Tuesday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is running for re-election against Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, and 18 wards have aldermanic runoffs: the 2nd, 7th, 10th, 11th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 21st, 24th, 29th, 31st, 36th, 37th, 41st, 43rd, 45th and 46th.
With two days still to go, early voting is up in every ward from Feb. 24, with some seeing increases of 50 percent or more. The 22nd Ward has seen the largest increase, 60 percent, to 1,239, but the 31st and 47th wards have both seen increases of more than 50 percent.
The most actual early votes, however, have been cast in the 19th and 41st wards, both with more than 5,000. The 41st Ward has a runoff between Ald. Mary O'Connor and Anthony Napolitano, while Ald. Matthew O'Shea (19th) won re-election comfortably in February.
The 31st Ward has seen a more than fivefold increase in requests for absentee ballots. There, Ald. Ray Suarez is in a runoff with Milly Santiago. The 2nd, 3rd, 22nd and 44th wards saw requests for absentee ballots more than quadruple.
Yet the most actual requests for absentee ballots have come — not surprisingly, given next week's spring break — from well-to-do lakefront wards. The 42nd, 43rd and 44th all topped 3,000 requests for absentee ballots.
Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Voters can find their polling places and get additional details at chicagoelections.com.
Neal is expected to step down as chairman of the Board of Election Commissioners after this election and 18 years at the post.
Asked if he found Chicago ready for reform, he said, "Chicago has reformed without a doubt."
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