Update: 4:00 pm, 2/28/17, Tuesday
URBANA — The threat of storms isn’t keeping voters from choosing who to put on the mayoral ticket.
Incumbent Mayor Laurel Prussing, Alderwoman Diane Marlin and Evelyn Underwood are running in the Democratic primary. In a few hours, one will win a spot on the ballot.
A good turnout so far. By the time polls close at 7 pm, up to 5,000 votes were expected cast, on top of 866 ballots cast earlier.
County Clerk Gordy Hulten says many made sure to vote early because of the threat of weather, but there was a steady stream throughout the city’s 20-precincts.
Since this is the only issue on the ballot, voters are making quick work of things.
If severe weather strikes, Hulten says the plan is to instruct election judges to lock up ballots and polls and seek shelter.
“We try to have a plan in place for everything. There’s a chance of severe weather late this evening, so we’re watching the forecast carefully. We have some meteorologist friends that are on standby for us, and our number one priority is to keep our election judges and our voters who are in polling places safe if we should have a weather event.”
For any time closed, they would remain open later to make up for the amount of time lost; but it could require getting a judge’s approval.
Original: 10:00 pm, 2/27/17, Monday
URBANA — Some say the mayoral primary is more important than the actual election day.
One of the three Democratic candidates will win a place on the ticket, and they may be helped by members of the other party. Anyone can vote in tomorrow’s primary; regardless of party affiliation.
Since there is only one Republican candidate running, there is no Republican primary. With no primary of their own, Republican voters in Urbana may be more likely to cast a vote for one of the Democratic candidates and that could change the outcome.
David Baker identifies as a republican. He says he’s already voted in the Democratic primary.
“The general won’t make a difference,” says Baker, “At least, that’s the assumption.”
Incumbent mayor Laurel Prussing, Alderwoman Diane Marlin and Evelyn Underwood are fighting for their spot on the Democratic ticket. The winner will face lone Republican Rex Bradfield on April 4.
Prussing won three consecutive terms, thanks to a strong Democratic base in Urbana, but Marlin is seen by many as a more moderate option; something which may appeal to Republicans.
“Nobody’s been able to work with Laurel in 12 years, and Diane’s been reasonable,” says Baker.
Shea Belahi is a Democrat. She says she also voted in the primary, but has no fears of Republicans possibly changing the outcome.
“I think it’s great,” says Belahi. “Everybody has an opportunity to have their voice be heard, and who knows about turnout. It’ll be exciting.”
Baker and Belahi say they both plan to vote in the general election as well and, while they’re only two examples, they might be in the minority.
“I will definitely be going back out in April to make sure that my voice is heard twice,” says Belahi.
The chair of the Champaign County Republican Party says they would never encourage Republicans to go out and cast Democratic ballots, but if Republicans want to do that, it’s their right to do so.
The Champaign County Clerk says he expects between two and five thousand voters at the polls on Tuesday. Gordy Hulten says, so far, he’s gotten about 900 ballots back from early voters.
If you live in Urbana and plan on voting, go to your normal polling place between 6 am – 7 pm.