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OUR VIEW: Take advantage of last chance to vote early

Many of our normal activities have been disrupted, postponed or canceled as a result of the current pandemic concerns, but Illinois' Republican and Democratic primary elections will be held as scheduled Tuesday.

However, if you're concerned about lines or crowds, the Illinois State Board of Elections is urging people to take advantage of early voting, which continues Monday at locations around the area.

Many people already have voted early, either by mail or in person at early balloting sites. If you haven't, there's still time to do so — early voting sites will be open around the region for much of the day Monday. You can find information about early voting sites near you at the Illinois State Board of Elections website, elections.il.gov.

The state board's website also includes a comprehensive list of sanitation measures that will be practiced at polling places on Election Day. They include: routine and regular cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces including , tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Voting-associated electronics also will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.

Voters will be provided with hand sanitizer both before and after voting, and poll workers will be encouraged to practice regular hand hygiene.

The current state of affairs seems almost certain to depress election turnout, and a delay in voting probably be would preferable. However, we have been told plainly that the voting will go on, and participating in the democratic process is critical. The current crisis makes it more obvious than ever that we need good leaders in our government when times become trying.

Vote on Monday if you can, and keep a safe distance from others. Or, if your schedule permits, visit a polling place on Tuesday during the workday, such as mid-morning or early afternoon. Whenever you vote, protect yourself by using good hygiene, and encourage others to do the same.

We have a duty as citizens to participate in the electoral process, and one that we should not take lightly. Those who have planned to vote in upcoming elections should take the opportunity to do so — but safely.

Local election officials must ensure that the procedures outlined by the state board are followed. Poll workers in particular deserve thanks for the public service they will perform, and also be urged to be take adequate precautions as they facilitate elections that make up the backbone of our democracy.

All should remember to vote smart, and also vote safe, this year.

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