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Chicago breaks primary election record for early voting

The city also broke its record for mail-in ballot applications earlier Sunday, with nearly 118,000 ballots requested.

Fred Blakely, 75, of South Shore, shows off his “I voted!” bracelet after casting his ballot last week.
On the first day of early voting, Fred Blakely, 75, of South Shore, showed off his “I voted!” bracelet after casting his ballot in the March 17 Illinois primary election at the new Loop super site at 191 N. Clark St., Monday morning, March 2, 2020. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Chicago broke its primary election record for early voting Sunday as the coronavirus continues to spread and people look for ways to maintain “social distancing.”

With 145,905 early votes through Sunday, Chicago beat its last primary election record for early voting with a full day to go before the formal election, according to the Chicago Election Board. Earlier in the day, the city broke its record for mail-in ballots, with nearly 118,000 ballots requested.

The record-setting numbers come as the CDC warns people against congregating in groups of 50 or more for the next eight weeks, and the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois rose to 93.

Despite several states opting to delay their primaries — including Georgia and Louisiana — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Sunday the state’s Tuesday primary won’t be pushed back.

“If we delayed the election, it is unclear when we might be able to hold another one,” Pritzker said. “...We’re working with our local county clerks, all across the state and boards of elections, to make sure that in-person voting on Tuesday is conducted safely. But remember, today, tomorrow and Tuesday, all our election days. Democracy must continue. We have to elect leaders, even in less than ideal circumstances.”

Contributing: Tina Sfondeles