Early voting in place until April 1

Maria Ruettiger, Staff Reporter

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The Coles County Clerk’s Office is holding early voting until April 1.

Julie Coe, the Coles County clerk and recorder, said that early voting starts 40 days before an election.

The first early voting started on March 21, 2006, said Sheryl Thomas, deputy county clerk of elections.

“I am guessing it was based off of the fact that at times (it was) inconvenient for people to be tied down to one date to vote,” Coe said. “So to encourage greater participation and more flexibility with people’s schedules, (early voting is held).”

Expanding the voting time will encourage a better voting turnout because people have more opportunities to do so, Coe said.

She feels like it is a privilege and a right to participate in early voting, so if people want to be part of a solution, then they need to go out and vote to help be a part of the change, Coe said.

“Sometimes races are decided by one vote … because someone decided not to vote that day may be the reason someone did or didn’t win in that election,” Coe said.

To register to vote early in most counties, including Coles, people need two forms of identification and a piece of mail that is sent to them to show proof that they live in that county, Thomas said.

“One (of the forms of identification) could be a current photo I.D.; usually people use their driver’s license because that has all your information on it. You do not have to have your correct address on your driver’s license,” Thomas said.

The piece of mail could be anything that has the person’s address on it, whether it is a bill, a lease agreement or something that is sent to them, Thomas said.

After getting all the information from the person that is registering, the workers are able to fill out all the paperwork and have them sign it; then, the people registering will be mailed an identification card, Thomas said.

Thomas said it is not a difficult or long process to register, but if students decide to vote at their hometowns, they are not able to vote anywhere else, Coe said.

“When you move to another place, you need to re-register there. You also have to cancel where you are already registered at,” Thomas said.

The state system also sometimes has the ability to alert a county if some registers to vote in another county, Thomas said, and the old county can cancel the registration for the person.

It is important that everyone’s voices are heard and that everyone stands up for what they believe in, she said, and early voting gives people the exact opportunity to do so.

Thomas said the office has a large Eastern student turnout for the presidential election and for governors, but for smaller elections, the student turnout can be pretty low.

Coe said students may be unaware of who is on the ballot or not sure if they should participate in voting because they are only here for a short period of time.

“I think it’s important (to vote) because the officials and offices they are voting for are working on issues that are important to students as well,” Coe said.

She said students should pay attention to current events and who their current leaders are because it better informs them on which candidates to vote for.

Maria Ruettiger can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].