If the early bird gets the worm, what does the early voter get?
We thought about that question as early voting starts today in advance of the Illinois primary on March 20.
Early voters can go to the office of their county clerk from now through Monday, March 19, during normal business hours.
In Lee County, for example, those hours are 8:15 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Special dates for early voting have also been scheduled.
In Lee County on Saturday, March 17, people may vote at the county clerk’s office from 9 a.m. until noon.
In Whiteside County, people may vote early from 9 a.m. until noon in the Morrison county clerk’s office on Saturdays, March 10 and 17.
There will be early voting in Sterling at the Eastern Branch Courthouse, 101 E. Third St., from 9 a.m. until
4 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday, March 7, 8 and 9.
Early voters get a chance to express their preferences on whom their parties will nominate to run in the Nov. 6 General Election so they need not worry about missing out on Election Day March 20 for whatever reasons might crop up – being out of town, illness, vacation, whatever.
And there are plenty of preferences to express, depending on where you live.
If you vote in the Democratic primary, you have choices for Illinois governor and attorney general, along with U.S. House of Representatives in the 16th District.
If you vote in the Republican primary, you have choices for Illinois governor, attorney general, U.S. House of Representatives in the 16th and 17th districts, Illinois House of Representatives in the 89th District, regional superintendent of schools for Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties, Whiteside county sheriff and Lee County treasurer.
Depending on where you live, you might find a referendum on the ballot as well.
So what do early voters get?
Early voters can breathe easy, knowing they have already cast their ballots for the candidates of their choice and knowing that those votes will count along with all the others cast on the more traditional time frame of Election Day.
Early voters get the opportunity to have their voices heard at the ballot box at a time that is convenient to them.
But what early voters don’t get is the opportunity for a do-over. After their ballots are cast, they can’t be rescinded.
For traditional voters who like to cast their ballots on Election Day, there is a deadline approaching that they should heed.
It’s the deadline to register to vote, and it’s coming up on Feb. 20.
People who want to vote on Election Day need to be sure they are current with their registration. People who have moved since the last election should not forget to contact the county clerk to get their registration transferred to the new address.
According to state law, 17-year-olds can vote in the primary if they will turn 18 on or before the Nov. 6 General Election, so students should definitely keep this in mind.
It’s not too early to focus on the candidates and the issues so as to make informed choices, whether you’re an early-bird voter or not.