County clerks surveying polls in Tuesday’s primary election saw a myriad of results in voter turnout throughout the day, in light of the increasing threat of COVID-19.
Election officials in Sangamon, Macon, and Iroquois counties had described the turnout as either ‘low’ or ‘light’ at some point throughout the day. Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray said it began at a snail’s pace at first but later picked up. Iroquois County Clerk Lisa Fancher said this morning turnout was low, and confirmed later this afternoon that it “didn’t improve.”
“I have a feeling it was around 15 or 25 percent,” she said. “That’s low for us.”
Fancher added her county does not see a big turnout for primaries anyways. “This one is definitely lower than usual and I think that’s because of the virus situation,” she said.
There were very few issues reported in Iroquois County, according to Fancher, and their elections had gone “really good” thus far. She said there were a couple of polling locations where they had ballots jam, “but that’s absolutely normal.”
“(Poll) workers did great,” Fancher said. “They were working short a judge or two almost everywhere because of the amount of judges that called off.
Although official turnout numbers are not yet available, Champaign County Clark Aaron Ammons said a lot of people are still coming out to the polls and early voting numbers totaled over 13,000. They also had more than 150 election judges drop out prior to the election, according to Ammons.
Vermilion County Clerk Cathy Jenkins said she was “pleasantly surprised” by her voter turnout observations, adding it was more than expected.
She thought it was due to a ballot referendum for a county sales tax increase. WCIA has reported the one percent sales tax would go towards school funding in Vermilion County, paying off existing bonds, improving infrastructure, bolstering school security and keeping their school districts competitive with those in neighboring Champaign County.
Jenkins said their polling stations didn’t have any issues and that it has been a “good election” so far. “I have good election judges, and a support team that works well and that had anticipated some issues,” she said. Jenkins added that more election judges canceled than usual this year. Thankfully, local high school seniors reached out to her office to help.
“We were able to fill the spots that were lost from kids that volunteered,” Jenkins said. “We certainly want them to be more involved in our election process.”
“They make or break us and we had the best election judges in the state. They are very dedicated and we try to keep them within our precautions. Everything just turned out very well. It’s always a team effort to put on a good election and I give them all the credit.”
Douglas County Clerk and Recorder Judi Pollock also said student volunteers provided help at their polls after other judges dropped out. Three area schools provided assistance, according to Pollock, with parental approval of course. “They were a lot of help,” she said of their student election judge program.
According to Pollock, voting operations were running well today and there were no issues at all. “We spent a lot of time with the judges,” she said. “They seemed very comfortable and the voters seemed very comfortable. After the weekend events, we didn’t know if anyone would be comfortable.”
Coles County Clerk Julie Coe said their reports from poll workers was that “everything is running smoothly! Although quite a few poll workers called in, she said they didn’t need to move or close any polls.
“As these events are unprecedented, we have had to make adjustments and work the best we could with whatever came our way,” she said.
“I am proud of how Coles County has worked together to enable our citizens to vote, Coe said. “Amidst all the abnormal, we pulled together and are working, still, to have a successful election!”