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Coronavirus In Chicago: While Acknowledging Worries, Preckwinkle Says 'Our Civic Duty Is Voting'

CHICAGO (CBS) -- While acknowledging the coronavirus crisis and the difficulties it is causing, city and county officials on Sunday urged people to turn out to vote for the Illinois primary this week – and emphasized that there is still time to vote early.

"Our civic duty is voting, and I encourage everyone to do their part," said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Preckwinkle said a mail-in ballot must be postmarked by Election Day, Tuesday, March 17.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough echoed comments Sunday from Gov. JB Pritzker that if the election is postponed, it is unclear when it could be held in the future – so the election will be going on as planned.

Yarbrough also noted that more than half of election judges who have registered are in populations that are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus and have decided not to participate.

She asked able-bodied persons such as college students who have been sent home to step in, noting that they would be paid $150 and that training requirements have been waived in favor of on-the-job training.

Chicago Board of Elections Chair Marisel Hernandez emphasized that while 178 polling places have indicated they will no longer be participating, there will still be more than 2,000 polling places in Chicago on Election Day and most will remain at their original sites.

Early voting hours have been extended in the city and will now be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Six locations will remain open until 7 p.m. Monday.

Officials said as of Sunday at 4:30 p.m., more than 144,000 Chicagoans had voted early – far ahead of the total for the 2016 primary.

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