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Early and mail-in voting numbers still high in lead-up to Election Day

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PEORIA (WEEK) -- Peorians lined up outside the Peoria County Election Commission Monday to vote early in Tuesday's election.

Some waited more than 30 minutes to cast their ballots.

"A little slow, but it went fine," early voter Norman Hodge said.

Early and mail-in voting numbers have more than doubled in Peoria and McLean counties since the last comparable local election in 2017.

Peoria County Election Commission Executive Director Tom Bride says those numbers are a continuation of a longer upward trend.

"I think that curve was pushed up because of the pandemic and the outreach that was done last year," Bride said. "But we were already seeing considerable growth because a lot of it having to do with candidates and parties reaching out and realizing it's a tool to contact voters."

Bride says they expect around 6,000 combined early and mail-in ballots by Election Day. Over in McLean County, that figure is more than 2,000.

Counties can continue counting mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day that come in for two weeks afterwards.

"We don't get all the ballots back, but we do expect to get a considerable number of vote by mail ballots still back," Bride said.

And while the pandemic has helped keep early and mail-in voting numbers high. Bride say this is a trend that's likely to outlive the pandemic.

"Once people tend to select vote by mail or early voting over Election Day, then they kind of tend to stick with that," Bride said.

Peoria County processed around 250 mail-in ballots Monday afternoon and expects around 500 to 600 more before the window closes.

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Alex Gaul

Alex Gaul joined WEEK 25 News and Heart of Illinois ABC in January 2021 as a Multimedia Journalist. He formerly worked for KPNX-TV and KAET-TV, both in Phoenix, Arizona. The Illinois-native is an alum of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.

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