Chad Kingsbury has voted at Northminster Presbyterian Church since 2001. Photo by Heidi Randhava

Tanya Brown and Omar Brown were among the Evanston voters who made the decision to vote in-person on Nov. 3 in an election year that set records for early voting. The New York Times reported “an astonishing 99.7 million ballots already submitted through in-person early voting and by mail” when early voting ended on Nov. 2.

“I wanted to vote today because it’s the day of voting. It doesn’t make sense to vote early if I don’t have a reason to. So I wanted to participate in my civic duty on the day of voting,” Ms. Brown told a reporter from The RoundTable.

“I decided to vote today because that’s what you do on Tuesday in November. I decided to stick with tradition and do what I normally do,” said Mr. Brown.

There was no line at all when the two voters arrived at 4 p.m. at their designated polling place, Fleetwood-Jourdain Center, 1655 Foster St.

“It’s Election Day, and I knew it wasn’t going to be that crowded,” said Denean Henry, who also voted at Fleetwood-Jourdain Center. Ms. Henry said voters waited in line outside the center before 7 a.m., but the line moved quickly.

“I think a lot of people early voted, and there wasn’t the rush to vote today. People wanted to make sure they got their ballots in,” said State Senator Laura Fine (9th District), who greeted voters outside of Fleetwood-Jourdain Center on the afternoon of Nov. 3.

State Representative and Evanston resident Robyn Gabel, who was re-elected to the Illinois House of Representatives (18th District), was also at Fleetwood-Jourdain Center greeting voters on Nov. 3.

“We saw a lot of voters today at various locations, but not a lot of lines. … But I have to tell you, at Evanston Civic Center, there were lines yesterday like crazy. … And there were lines early in the voting process, two weeks ago,” she said.

To find out how many people voted in the district from suburban Cook County, Rep. Gabel said, “You can to go on the Suburban Cook County Clerk’s website, and for each district, the votes will start coming in. We end up seeing votes by precinct the day after Election Day.”

Maddie Norris, a poll watcher and legislative aide to Rep. Gabel, said that, as of 4 p.m., 316 voters had cast their ballots on Nov. 3 at Fleetwood-Jourdain Center.

Evanston resident Chuck Heisinger, who collected signatures for an Evanston aldermanic candidate outside of Willard Elementary School and Northminster Presbyterian Church, said he observed fast moving lines of six to ten people waiting to vote as early as 6 a.m. outside of those polling places. He was not among the Election Day voters.

“I voted early, but I dropped my ballot off at City Hall on the second day [of early voting],” said Mr. Heisinger.

Marissa Harvey said there was no line when she arrived at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 3 to vote at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 2515 Central Park Ave.

“Altogether, it took five minutes to vote,” said Ms. Harvey. When asked why she decided to wait until Election Day to vote, she said, “I didn’t trust the mail-in ballot, and I really like voting here. It’s tradition. It’s near my residence, and my daughter went to pre-school here.” 

Ms. Harvey was accompanied by her daughter, Julia Barnes, now in fifth-grade in District 65. “We kind of do this at every election,” said Julia.

“I live around the corner, and I come here every year to vote. My wife voted at the Civic Center early. I vote here. It’s habit, tradition – and it’s a beautiful day,” said Chad Kingsbury, who also voted at Northminster Presbyterian Church.

Due to COVID-19, extra safety precautions were taken at the Morton Civic Center during early voting and at polling places on Nov. 3. Face coverings were required and voters were encouraged to use hand sanitizer before and after entering polling places. Voters were asked to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others. High-contact surfaces at polling places were sanitized frequently, and sanitizer and face masks were made available to voters.

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.