Early voting up, but light turnout expected Tuesday
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com April 8, 2013 11:15PM
Updated: May 10, 2013 6:23AM
As voters head to the polls Tuesday, results from early voting might provide clues about which races will draw the most interest.
Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cook County Clerk David Orr said they tend to be less crowded between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. To find your voting site, visit www.cookcountyclerk.com or www.thewillcountyclerk.com.
The number of early ballots cast in some Southland towns was up sharply, with robust rises being reported in Oak Lawn, Matteson and South Holland.
According to Orr’s office, 40,693 early votes were cast, up 52.5 percent from the last consolidated election in 2011, when there were 26,679.
Early voting was also successful in Will County, where 9,787 voters took part. A total of 5,766 people cast early ballots in 2011.
Orr attributed the numbers to public awareness of early voting.
“The public seems to love early voting,” Orr said. “I think people want to plan ahead and get something out of the way.”
He credited contested races in Oak Lawn and Matteson for helping drive early voting totals. But they are the exception: A total of 63 percent of Cook County races are uncontested, which may explain why officials expect overall voter turnover to be less than 20 percent.
In Matteson, 2,071 ballots were cast, up from 1,278 in 2011. Not only are the races for village trustee contested, but Matteson is the home of Robin Kelly, the Democratic nominee to succeed Jesse Jackson Jr. for the 2nd Congressional District seat. She is running against Republican Paul McKinley, of Chicago.
In Oak Lawn, where incumbent Mayor Dave Heilmann is facing Sandra Bury among contested races that also include trustees, early voting numbers also boomed. A total of 1,838 early votes were cast this year, up from 550 in 2011.
Early voting was also up in South Holland, where mayoral clerk and village board seats all are up for election. Some 2,046 people already have cast ballots in South Holland, up from 589 in 2011.
Orr said there were relatively few shenanigans reported during the early voting process.
‘There’s been a few cases where people were being too robust,” Orr said. “By and large it has been tame. There’s very few problems in early voting and very few problems with the mail voting.”
Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said that while early voting is on the rise, it is unlikely the overall turnout will exceed that of a presidential election, which usually draws anywhere from 75 to 90 percent turnout.
“This is sad because this is the election where they are electing their local candidates that are spending their tax dollars,” Voots said. “It’s odd voters don’t come out in this election.”