Midterm elections appear to spark strong voter turnout in Central Illinois

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BLOOMINGTON — Maddy Dunsworth may not be the most politically active member of her social group, but she thought it was still important to make it out to the polls and vote.

“I’ve always liked the idea of being able to make change and vote,” said Dunsworth, a senior at Illinois State University majoring in music education. “So my vote at least does something to cause some sort of change, and I think that’d be really cool.”



Illinois State University students line up to register and vote early Tuesday in the Bone Student Center in Normal.



CLAY JACKSON, THE PANTAGRAPH


Several polling places across the Twin Cities on Tuesday morning had reported steady traffic as voters turned out to cast their ballots for governor and other constitutional offices, congressional and state representatives, a statewide referendum related to collective bargaining and locally, a question of funding for McLean County Unit 5.

“Things started out well — knock on wood — and we haven’t had any major problems,” said McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael. “Poll watchers and judges are getting on famously, and everybody knows their role and are respectful of each other here in McLean County so far.”

The county had reported 5,323 early voters and 4,513 mail-in ballots as of Tuesday. The Bloomington Election Commission, which handles elections in the city, reported 6,978 early voters and 4,862 mail-in ballots.

As an example of the strong turnout, Michael said Heyworth was on track to meet its 2018 voter turnout of 1,600 voters and could even exceed it.

Outside of McLean County, a DeWitt County election official said voter turnout had been very high.



Illinois State University sophomores and first-time voters Ebonie Causey, left, and Tama Arbutina pick up “I voted” stickers after voting early Tuesday in the Bone Student Center in Normal.



CLAY JACKSON, THE PANTAGRAPH


“We have had a very smooth day as far as any kind of technical issues or anything like that,” said Kari Harris, chief deputy to the DeWitt County Clerk. “Our biggest issue has been getting more ballots to the polling places, which is not a bad problem to have with the voter turnout being so high.”

Both Harris and Theresa Moore, the Logan County clerk, reported no trouble finding election judges this year.

“People are very interested in this election. Early voting has been up and mail-in ballots have been up,” Moore said.

State Rep. Dan Brady, the Bloomington Republican running for Secretary of State against Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, said earlier turnout across the region was heavier than expected. Turnout appeared lower in suburban Cook County, he said Tuesday morning.

“We’ll see if that trend continues,” he said Tuesday morning at the Original House of Pancakes in Normal, where he was greeting potential voters, “but today’s a good day, weather-wise.”



Election judge Wayne Dillow works with other judges on Tuesday at the Astroth Community Education Center on the Heartland Community College campus. 



CLAY JACKSON, THE PANTAGRAPH


He added that election judges at his polling place told him they were seeing fewer people vote on Election Day as early voting numbers have increased.

Wayne Dillow, an election judge at Heartland Community College Astroth Center for Normal Precincts 12, 13 and 23, said the turnout had been busy but steady. Well over 200 ballots were cast within the first four hours, he said.

“It’s been four years since we had this kind of election, but compared to the primary, this is probably three or four times as busy,” Dillow said. “We only had a little over 550 total at the primary that actually voted here, so we’re well above those numbers.”



“I Voted” stickers were available for those casting their ballots at the Astroth Community Education Center on the Heartland Community College campus. 



CLAY JACKSON, THE PANTAGRAPH


Timothy Nurnberger, an election judge at the First Assembly of God Church for Normal Precincts 2, 4, 5 and 6, said everything had been moving smoothly and a lot of the turnout is similar to midterm elections he has worked in the past.

“I would say it’s been steady, not overwhelming,” Nurnberger said. “I’ve been doing this for many years, and I think this is not unusual for a midterm election.”

There was also a steady stream of voters that made their way through the polls before noon at the Bone Student Center.

“The student population is turning out, and I’m really happy about that,” said Celeste Brennan, an election judge for Normal Precincts 8 and 30.

About 150 voters had been through by roughly 10 a.m., with more waiting in line, Brennan said. She expected more traffic throughout the day as students left classes and others left work.

“I believe it’s important for everyone to come out and vote,” Brennan said. “Especially the students right now. Students are our future, and I think it’s important that they get out and express their opinions by voting.”



Election judge Dave Rimmele, right, works with voters early Tuesday at the First Assembly of God precinct in Normal.



CLAY JACKSON, THE PANTAGRAPH


Election judge Madie Ratliff said she has seen more younger people come out to vote and definitely thinks that students are becoming increasingly motivated to turn out.

“I definitely encourage young people to come out and volunteer to be election judges,” said Ratliff, who had previously worked as an election judge in Sangamon County. “It’s cool to see the democratic process in action because you learn a lot and then it makes you a more informed voter as well.”

Bryce Harris, a sophomore at ISU majoring in history education, said he was not a fan of either gubernatorial candidate but voted in support of women’s rights and reproductive health care.

“I think it’s important to get your voice out there and be able to express your opinions on different topics,” Harris said. “I want to have a say in what we do here in Illinois.”

Contact Mateusz Janik at (309) 820-3234. Follow Mateusz on Twitter:@mjanik99

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November 8, 2022 at 05:27PM

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