From Funeral Home to Comedy Club, Here Are Some of Chicago’s Most Interesting Polling Places

When it comes to polling places, public buildings are usually preferred over private businesses.

“They often serve as community centers, and they’re often well-known locations like parks, libraries, schools,” said Max Bever, director of public information for the Chicago Board of Elections.

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On top of that, Bever said most public buildings fit polling place requirements like ADA compliance and space (at least 800 square feet).

But out of the nearly 1,300 polling places across Chicago for Tuesday’s primary election, there will be a few private businesses that offer up their space for voters.

Some sites like Donnellan Funeral Home and the Latin American Motorcycle Association have served as polling places for years, while others — like the Edgewater bakery Edge of Sweetness — are taking their first plunge into election work.

There are some benefits to serving as a polling place. Bever said building owners are paid $250 for hosting one precinct and $150 for each additional precinct hosted. There’s also the benefit of spreading awareness about a business.

Mark Geary, who helps oversee the Lincoln Lodge in Logan Square, said the comedy club will get new visitors after each election cycle.

But whether voters are visiting a private or public place to cast their ballot this year, Bever said one thing will be the same: Gone are the days of long lines.

“We generally see about 25% of voters early voting, about 25-30% of voters voting by mail and about 50% of voters showing up to vote on Election Day,” Bever said. “We’re just seeing less people show up on Election Day.”

In no particular order, WTTW News rounded up some of the city’s unique polling places.

1. The Drake | 140 E. Walton Place | Ward 2, Precinct 8

Chicago’s historic hotel The Drake won’t only service guests on Tuesday, but also voters. Depending on the time of day people vote at The Drake, voters can visit the Palm Court for afternoon tea.

2. Su Nueva Lavanderia | 4314 W. Marquette Road | Ward 13, Precinct 22

Voters who stop at Su Nueva Lavanderia might be able to do a load or two of laundry while completing their civic duty. Talk about multitasking!

3. The Lincoln Lodge | 2040 N. Milwaukee Ave. | Ward 1, Precinct 9

Got plans after casting your ballot? If not, the Lincoln Lodge has three shows on Election Night.

4. Scelebrations Fashion | 5409 S. Kedzie Ave. | Ward 14, Precinct 10

Voters casting their ballot at Scelebrations might get distracted by this shop’s glitter and glam. The store offers voluminous dresses and tidy suits for special events like baptisms, First Communions and quinceañeras.

5. Donnellan Funeral Home | 10525 S. Western Ave. | Ward 19, Precinct 26

Donnellan Funeral Home director John Schultz said voters joke about voting at a funeral home. But Schultz also said he’s gotten to know many voters, a number of whom have buried family members with his business.

6. Edge of Sweetness | 6034 N. Broadway | Ward 48, Precinct 30

First-time polling place Edge of Sweetness offers a space for voters to cast their ballot and pick up baked goods. Place an online order ahead of time for an “I Voted!” mystery treat box.

7. Lawn Lane Bowl | 6750 S. Pulaski Road | Ward 23, Precinct 31

Get ready to mark your ballot and a bowling scoresheet with an “X.” Voters will share lanes with bowlers this Election Day.

8. Chicago Filmmakers | 1326 W. Hollywood Ave. | Ward 48, Precinct 31

The nonprofit Chicago Filmmakers offers screenings, filmmaking classes and voting. Executive director Brenda Webb said some Edgewater residents remember visiting the building on previous Election Days when it was a firehouse.

9. Latin American Motorcycle Association | 3519 W. Fullerton Ave. | Ward 35, Precinct 5 & 8

The Latin American Motorcycle Association, or L.A.M.A. for short, calls itself “a club without borders.” And on Tuesday, it’ll be a club for voters. L.A.M.A. was founded in 1977 in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community. It has since expanded to different parts of the world with chapters across the U.S., Europe, Asia, South America and Australia.

10. Chicago History Museum | 1601 N. Clark St. | Ward 43, Precincts 2 & 3

After casting your ballot, you might crave some Chicago history. The exhibit “Facing Freedom in America” might satisfy voters and visitors alike.

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