Campaign signs and volunteers handing out literature outnumbered actual voters around noon today, as early voting for the Evanston municipal election got under way at the Civic Center.

Election Day itself is April 6. Races for aldermen and city clerk are on the Evanston ballot. The mayor’s race was decided in the February primary when former state legislator Daniel Biss received more than 50% of the vote.

Despite the slow start, total turnout may turn out to be higher than expected. In a Zoom news conference this morning, Cook County Clerk Karen Yarborough said that countywide, the number of mail-in ballot requests, 55,000, is an all-time high for a consolidated suburban election covering multiple communities.

Yarborough said those who requested mail-in ballots should get them later this week. It’s still not too late to apply for one. That deadline is April 1. As long as the ballot is postmarked by Election Day, it can arrive at the clerk’s office up to two weeks later and still be counted.

At the Civic Center, voter Doug Macdonald told Evanston Now he showed up today because his wife voted earlier in the morning, and informed him “there was no one here.” No line to worry about.

Macdonald said the biggest issue for him in the aldermanic race is where candidates stand on protecting the environment.

In-person early voting continues through April 5.

Unlike in the presidential election, Yarborough said there will not be secure ballot drop boxes at early voting sites. She said the state legislature did not extend the COVID-related law allowing those boxes.

There are secure drop boxes, however, at five county courthouses and at the Cook County administration building in downtown Chicago. The closest courthouse to Evanston is in Skokie.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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