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Ballot Dispute Delays Early Voting In McLean County

The start of early voting has been pushed back to Feb. 20.
The start of early voting has been pushed back to Feb. 20.

Early voting for the March 20 primary will not begin this week in McLean County as scheduled because of an ongoing legal fight over who’s on the ballot.

The start of early voting has been pushed back to Feb. 20, instead of Feb. 8, officials announced Tuesday. The change affects voters across McLean County, including those who live in Bloomington. The delay will give the courts time to resolve a pending dispute related to the Democratic primary for attorney general.

“That’s kind of a reasonable date we’ve agreed upon (with the Bloomington Election Commission), and hopefully we’ll have a decision by then so we can get our ballots printed and everybody can start voting,” said McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael. Ballots may be ready sooner should the decision be made prior to Feb. 20, Michael said in a joint statement with the Bloomington Election Commission.

That first week of early voting has historically seen “very, very low turnout,” Michael said, an indication few will be impacted by the delay. But Michael stressed that any voting period is important.

“It’s so early, and with a primary battle, a lot of people haven’t made up their minds yet,” she said.

Anyone who shows up to the McLean County clerk’s office or the Bloomington Election Commission looking to vote before Feb. 20 can sign up to vote by mail. They will be mailed a ballot when it's ready.

“Anybody that can’t early vote, you can vote by mail. This shouldn’t stop anyone from voting,” Michael said.

When early voting does begin, it will be offered at the Bloomington Election Commission (for City of Bloomington voters only) and at the McLean County clerk’s offices during set times through March 19. Early voting will also be available at Illinois State University on March 5-9 and again March 12-16.

The decision to delay early voting is made locally. Chicago voters will also be delayed. State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said the decision is up to each jurisdiction.

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Contact Ryan at rmdenha@ilstu.edu or (309) 438-5426.