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WHEATON — Nearly 2 million mail-in ballots are heading to voters across Illinois as in-person early voting gets underway in the state.

With the exception of Cook County and Chicago, early voting began at locations across Illinois Thursday and will continue until November 2.

Election officials say an unprecedented number of people waited in a line that curved around the parking lot of the DuPage County Fairgrounds after polls opened at 8 a.m. Thursday. 

Since it’s the only polling location serving DuPage County until mid-October, would-be voters faced a two-and-a-half hour wait most of the day. DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek said a wait that long is unprecedented.

Despite the wait, voters said they wanted to be there because voting is important.

“With all the confusion about mail… I really didn’t want to deal with that,” Florine Horne said.

The polling place in Wheaton is open six days a week, while 18 others will open in the county on October 19. 

Here’s more information about voting in DuPage County

Early voting in Cook County begins at a few locations on October 7 and will expand on October 19. In Chicago, early voting will start October 1 at the city’s Loop supersite, while ward-based polling sites open on October 14.

The Illinois State Board of Elections said they began sending out 1.82 million mail-in ballots Thursday, while they’re still receiving 25,000-30,000 new applications for ballots every day.

Nearly a quarter of all DuPage County’s registered voters signed up for mail-in voting, setting another record as many plan to avoid the polls altogether. 

For those who do not want to send in their ballots, secure drop boxes are also being placed at early voting and other sites. The United States Postal Service says it can handle the extra volume of ballots expected this election year as well. 

Regardless of how your ballot is cast —  by mail or in person — it is your chance to have your voice heard.

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