Lake County polls open until 9 for same-day registration

Same-day voter registration will stay open at certain Lake County polling places until 9 p.m.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has won a court order to let currently unregistered voters keep casting ballots after polls close at 7 p.m. because sites for same-day voter registration in Lake County didn't open until 10 a.m.

Madigan says Lake County Clerk Willard Helander is "illegally interpreting" election laws.

People who vote the same day they register cast provisional ballots that will be counted later if officials verify the voter is eligible.

Earlier, Madigan said Helander was making people vote a provisional ballot if they'd previously requested one by mail but hadn't sent it in. Voters, Madigan said, should be allowed to vote a standard ballot if they bring in the one they got in the mail.

Madigan said Helander was requiring them to have the envelope with their name on it in addition to the blank ballot in order to vote in person.

A county judge ruled this afternoon that a voter only needs to bring the ballot.

"These illegal practices risk disenfranchising voters throughout the county," Madigan said in a statement.

Helander said she handled it the way she did because she wanted to protect against potential voter fraud.

"But, under the ruling, people who asked for a ballot but did not receive one by mail can sign an affidavit and they will be allowed to put it in the bin," she said.

Meanwhile, voters were in the dark for a time at a of couple suburban polling places today as power outages forced some adjustments at two Palatine schools.

Cook County Clerk David Orr's office says power went out at William Fremd High School and Stuart R. Paddock School, leaving election workers to move tables toward the windows for light and use flashlights to help voters see.

Power went out at around 10:30 and was restored a little after noon.

Voters were still able to vote via paper ballots and machines have battery backup, spokeswoman Courtney Greve said.

Greve said it's hard to tell what turnout has been like so far in Cook County, but as of noon more than 900 people had taken advantage of same-day voter registration, casting provisional ballots that won't be counted immediately.

Plus, she said, the record-setting volume of mail ballots mean those that have come in since Saturday are unlikely to be counted tonight.

"It's just a time-consuming process," she said.

In DuPage County, election authority Executive Director Bob Saar said turnout was "brisk but not overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination."

He suggested final turnout with early voting should fall in the typical range for midterm elections, a few points more than 50 percent.

Saar said the county saw a hiccup or two early on when some voters in a few precincts had been given only one page of the two-page ballot.

In close elections like the expected race for governor, a few percentage points of turnout could make a big difference, and a glut of uncounted ballots late tonight could keep some results in question until Wednesday or later.

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  Grace Grode of Elgin casts her vote at her polling place at Elgin Community College Tuesday. She said she still enjoys going on Election Day and eschews early voting for tradition. Rick West/
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