Madigan's raiders may find sleepy voting booths today

Legal News Line Feb. 27, 2007, 10:03am

Lisa Madigan

Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan seems to determined to ensure that Illinois polling places no longer resemble - well - Illinois polling places. Today she deployed over 250 Assistant Attorneys Generals and Investigators to monitor statewide municipal primary elections. Some will be stationed at polling places while others will pay surprise visits to voting spots. Madigan said the extra field officers will "help ensure that polling places are accessible and that Illinois citizens' voting rights are protected." They might not see much action if early predictions are any indication. Political watchers are predicting close to historically low turnouts for today's vote, especially in the state's two key population centers. Election officials in southwest Illinois near St. Louis are expecting turnouts of only 10-20 percent in the three cities holding primaries today, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. All votes in East St. Louis, Mascoutah and Collinsville are for mayoral and council races. Voting turnout also is expected to fall in urban Chicago today, reports Courtney Greve of the Daily Southtown. One reason is a late mailing of postcards showing polling places' location, which will likely throw off first-time voters. Another is the loss of some 30,000 registered voters from the city of Chicago since the last municipal election in 2003. Bad weather, uncontested council races and a one-sided mayoral race could also lower turnout, Greve reports. But this being Illinois, Madigan nonetheless reminded voters yesterday of their basic rights at voting places. These included the right to vote if they're in line when polls close, the right to receive a replacement ballot and the right for the disabled to receive assistance. Employees in Illinois also have the right to take up to two hours off to vote.

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