Six precincts in Jefferson Park/Wilson Park area will not have a polling location on Election Day, as those voters will have to use one of the city’s 51 early voting locations to vote on June 28; in all, 73 precincts citywide won’t have their own polling place
by BRIAN NADIG
Six precincts in the Jefferson Park/Wilson Park area in the 45th Ward are among the 73 precincts citywide that will not have their own polling place on Election Day, June 28, for the upcoming primary, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
The elections board received a court ruling allowing it to keep the 73 precinct polling places vacant on June 28.
The affected precincts in the 45th Ward, which has a total of 48 precincts, are the 15th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 30th and 35th. Those precincts run along or within a few blocks of West Lawrence Avenue, and in past years the Jefferson Park and Wilson Park fieldhouses have been used as polling places for at lease three of those precincts, but applications to use the fieldhouses again reportedly were rejected by the elections board.
Specifics on why these area precincts will not have their own Election Day polling place were not available, but it was a “perfect storm” of circumstances that made securing locations difficult throughout the city given the unusual June election (moved from March), accessibility issues and a wave of opt-outs during the pandemic, according to elections board director of public information Max Bever.
Bever said that in some circumstances locations which are not fully accessible are being used because of a lack of better alternatives. Poll workers will reportedly bring a voting tablet outside to someone who cannot get into a building due to accessibility problems.
Those wishing to vote in-person on June 28 who live in an affected precinct will have to use one of the 51 early voting locations in the city, as those polling locations will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28. Chicago residents can use any early voting location regardless of the ward they live in.
The 45th Ward early voting polling location is at the Independence Library, 4024 N. Elston Ave., near the southeast corner of the ward. In recent elections early voting had taken place at the 16th (Jefferson Park) Police Station, 5151 N. Milwaukee Ave., which is more centrally located in the ward.
However, the elections board is no longer using law enforcement buildings, including police and fire stations, as polling places. It is not clear why the board has eliminated police and fire stations, but Bever said that many firehouses have accessibility issues.
Other Northwest Side early voting locations that will be open on June 28 include the Roden Library, 6083 N. Northwest Hwy. (41st Ward), North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski Road (39th Ward) and Hiawatha Park, 8029 W. Forest Preserve Drive (38th Ward).
Voters who find that their precinct does not have its own election day polling place will not be able to vote at a nearby precinct, as precinct polling places are only available to those who live in that particular precinct, Bever said. He added that voting by mail remains an option for all voters.
Most wards will have all of their precinct polling locations open on June 28, and several will have only one or two locations vacant, according to the elections board.
The 42nd Ward, which includes Downtown Chicago, will have 14 vacant precinct polling locations, the highest number in the city.
In the 41st Ward, the 11th Precinct, located near Harlem and Arthur avenues, will not have a polling place on June 28, and in the 38th Ward, the 9th and 27th precincts will not have a polling place, but each of those precincts is located near Hiawatha Park, where early voting is available. In the 39th Ward, the 38th Precinct is affected but is located near the early voting site at North Park Village.
The elections board hopes to fill all precinct polling locations for the general election in November, Bever said.