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City election board to move 25 Election Day voting locations

The move comes amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. In other election news, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has canceled her election-night party due to virus concerns.

7th ward Alderman Natashia Holmes, votes in today February 2015.
The city will move 25 polling locations over coronavirus concerns. The locations being closed include nursing homes and private residences.
Sun-Times file

Responding to coronavirus concerns, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners said Tuesday it will move 25 precinct polling locations, a decision coming just six days before Election Day.

Affected voters hoping for a heads-up before they vote in the March 17 primary may be out of luck — Marisel Hernandez, chair of the Chicago board, said they may not know the new locations right away.

As of Wednesday morning, the board had 25 Election Day polling locations, spread across 14 wards, to relocate.

“We’re trying to explore every avenue to relocate them,” said Marisel Hernandez, chair of the Chicago Board of Elections. “We’re working with the city to see what city and state buildings are available.”

Some of the locations being changed are nursing homes; others are private locations and could be moved to firehouses, schools and other places yet to be determined.

Two locations that had opened Tuesday were already closed, Hernandez said. Those looking for the latest info on their polling site could go to the board’s website. Despite the relocating, Hernandez said “early voting is your best bet right now.”

Marisel Hernandez, chair of the Chicago Board of Elections.
Marisel Hernandez, chair of the Chicago Board of Elections, at a Wednesday news conference, said 25 polling places will be moved.
Rachel Hinton/Sun-Times

As of Tuesday, 63,419 people have early voted. Tuesday was the best day for early voting so far, with 9,604 ballots cast. The 90,200 applications for mail-in ballots are triple the amount four years ago. So far, 14,364 of those ballots have been received.

Hernandez said the board is in constant contact with state and federal officials and, though “the risk of contracting the [coronavirus] remains low,” the board is offering hand sanitizer, which it started stockpiling months ago, as well as sanitizing wipes at voting locations.

Polling sites will be wiped down “periodically,” Jim Allen, a spokesman for the board, said.

Some poll workers have notified the board they will not work Election Day, though Allen said it is not “a significant number.”

Hernandez said the board usually has backup election judges and has already created a plan to make sure polling sites can continue to operate.

“We’re working with the city right now, and the city has in fact offered some of their employees to serve as standby judges. And that’s a little challenging, because these city workers don’t have any training as judges of election,” Hernandez said. “What we’ve done is create a training, online, specifically for these individuals ... so we will be instructing them to go online and watch these videos.”

Hernandez urged people to consider voting early so people don’t have to rely on the U.S. Postal Service to get their ballot to the board.

Those choosing a maiI-in ballot must request it by 5 p.m. Thursday.

“Vote once, and wash your hands early and often,” Hernandez said.

Foxx alters Election Night gathering

In another virus-related election development, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, in a four-way race for the Democratic nomination, announced Wednesday she was canceling her large election-night watch party.

Instead she will have an election night press conference for media only.