|By Illinois Campaign for Policy Reform
Since 2006, the use of Early Voting in Illinois Primary Elections has been steadily increasing. The 2018 Primary saw record turnout, with 22% of ballots cast before Election Day, compared to 18% in 2016. Early Voting in IllinoisGeneral Elections is also on the rise, with usage increasing significantly in Presidential Election years. In terms of timing, Illinois has one of the longest Early Voting periods in the country at 40 days, compared to the national average of 22 days.
Early Voting Trends Across the U.S.
While Early Voting numbers in Illinois are breaking state records, other major U.S. states have seen significantly higher figures. In recent Primary Elections, California has had an average of 64% of votes cast before Election Day. The primary source of Early Votes in California is through mail-in ballots, as election jurisdictions are not required to set up in-person polling places during the Early Voting period. However, many voters receive their ballots in the mail ahead of time by signing up as a “Permanent Vote-By-Mail Voter.” The Early Voting period in California lasts 29 days.
In Florida, 62% of voters cast their ballots ahead of time in 2016, with 43% of ballots cast by mail. Florida’s Early Voting period is just 15 days, but usage still rose between 2014 and 2016 in the state. By contrast, Illinois‘ vote by mail percentage was just 4% in 2018, and 3% in 2016.
Early Voting Usage in Top U.S. States
Primary Elections, 2014 – 2018
*New York and Pennsylvania do not offer Early Voting
(New York is set to introduce Early Voting in 2019)
|Texas saw an average of 30% of votes cast early over the past three Primary Elections, with about 10% more of their ballots cast before Election Day than Illinois in 2018. Only two of the top states in the U.S., Ohio and New Jersey, had lower Early Voting usage than Illinois over the past two Primary elections. New York and Pennsylvania do not have any Early Voting, but do offer mail-in voting if voters can show specific reasons for doing so.
Early Voting Utilized Differently Across Illinois
While the Illinois electorate as a whole has been warming up to Early Voting, it is not utilized equally in all areas of the state. Only 8 of 102 counties saw Early Voting percentages higher than the statewide average of 22% this year, with a majority of early votes coming from larger counties. Early Voting figures displayed below include all ballots cast in-person, by mail, or during grace period voting prior to Election Day.
Early Voting Popularity in the 2018 Primary
Early Voting Ballots Received February 8, 2018 – March 19, 2018