By Owen Haight, Jack Eisenhuth, Nicky Andrews, Rachel Amegatcher
As the Broadway Armory opened its doors to early voters last Wednesday, citizens of Rogers Park and Edgewater were tasked with taking extra precautions to ensure they were voting safely.
Voters are encouraged by the Chicago Board Election Commissioners to vote by mail or vote early ahead of the November 3rd deadline due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is on top of the standard requests for masks and social distancing. For the first time, Chicago mail-in voters have the option to submit their ballots in secured drop boxes located at each early voting site.
This year, at least one Early Voting site is available in every ward of
Chicago. The 48th Ward, which is made up of Edgewater, Andersonville and Uptown, has an early voting site at the Broadway Armory on N Broadway St. Although the ward is made up of these three neighborhoods, the voting station is open to all citizens, registered or not, across the city. Residents will notice the Armory is not the usual early voting site; it took the place of the Edgewater Library to accommodate safety precautions.
If planning to register at the polling station, officials suggest bringing two valid forms of ID. One of these IDs must have a current address and the other can be a school or work ID. This is an important note for many college students who historically have the lowest voter turnout of any demographic.
Nineteen year old Vanessa Estevam, is a resident of Edgewater, college student, and first time presidential voter. While she is thankful for mail-in ballots and plans on voting early, she admitted to having some hesitations.
“I feel iffy about sending in my ballot,” she said. “It goes through so many people, it’s hard not to feel uneasy.”
It has not gone unnoticed that along with stress from COVID-19 many voices have tried to undermine the influence of people’s votes. Vanessa offered a piece of advice for anyone feeling that their vote wouldn’t matter.
“If everyone thought that, there would be none.”
On the first day of early voting at the Broadway Armory, a line down the block of socially distanced and socially conscious citizens stood to perform their civic duty. Voters young and old turned in their mail-in ballots at the secure drop boxes located just inside.
“Voting is a privilege,” said Douglas Brown, an early voter. When asked why he was voting early, Brown said, “I thought there’d be less lines.”
Voters have not only shown up early, but are waiting in lengthy lines under various conditions to have their voices heard. Chuck Myaard, a long standing Election Judge of the 48th Ward, said he was inspired most by the voter’s persistence.
“The voters are on a mission. On bad days I have seen voters wait in line for two to three hours to vote. I have seen wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and crippling arthritis and these people are willing to wait their turn to vote.”
Myaard believes it is important to vote for every election, and recommends voters are especially patient in these times. In addition, he encourages voters to be prepared with their voting plans and masks.
Since the pandemic, there has been a shortage of volunteers, poll workers, and election judges such as Myaard. If you are able to and would like to work as an election judge or poll worker please consider signing up through these links: https://chicagoelections.gov/en/serving-as-a-judge-of-election.html
For more information about voting, registration, and voting locations in the Chicago area, check out the Board of Election Commissioners’ website: