EDWARDSVILLE — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and congressional candidate Dr. David Gill kicked off early voting Monday at the most convenient site for college students: their own campus.
Durbin and Gill spoke at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's Goshen Lounge, one floor down from the Willow Room, which is an early voting site.
Durbin said early voting is "big, and getting bigger." More and more of the population is choosing to vote in advance of Election Day, he said. In North Carolina, more than 150,000 people voted on the first day of early voting alone.
"It's an indication that we need to make voting available for people in their busy lives," Durbin said.
Early voting is available at county courthouses and selected other sites around the county through Nov. 3. For a list of locations, see your county's website.
County courthouses are the only sites where grace-period voting is available: a chance for people who have not registered to vote to do so, and vote at the same time. Two forms of identification are required, at least one of which is a picture ID and at least one has the address for which the person is voting.
Recently in Ohio, a swing state in the presidential election, debates over early voting ended up in court. In 2004, shortages of voting machines led to waits as long as 10 hours. In 2008, early voting was established for 35 days prior to the election, including the weekend before Election Day. But this year, the legislature voted to ban voting on Sunday before Election Day, and cut the days from 35 to 11.
"It's game-playing on the part of career politicians, in most cases to limit Democratic turnout," Gill said. Gill is running for Congress in Illinois' new 13th House District against Republican Rodney Davis and Independent John Hartman.
Durbin said it is a "focused effort in 30 states" to suppress voter turnout by shortening or limiting early voting.
"Their message is, stay at home, don't vote," he said. "We want to make it convenient and easy to help more people participate."
By putting a voting location in the university center, "we couldn't make it any easier for students to vote," Durbin said.
'There are very few times in your life that you get to pick a president," Durbin told the students gathered in Goshen Lounge. "Don't just take a history course -- make history."
Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2501.