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Voter turnout ‘extremely low’ for Illinois primary: election official

Metropolitan Water ReclamatiDistrict candidate Patrick D. Thompsvotes today's general electiFire House 3509 S Lowe.Tuesday March 20 2011 | Brian Jackson~Chicago

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District candidate Patrick D. Thompson votes in today's general election at the Fire House at 3509 S Lowe.Tuesday, March 20, 2011 | Brian Jackson~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: March 20, 2012 5:29PM



Today’s sunny weather was not enough to drive people to their polling places this afternoon.

Throughout the city, voter turnout for the primary election has been “extremely low,” said Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Allen said bell weather precincts, which are usually in line with the average turnout in the city, saw a 15 percent voter turnout as of 1 p.m.

Allen attributes the lack of enthusiasm to an absence of contested races that throw the spotlight on contentious issues.

“The judicial races, as important as they are, do not excite voters,” Allen said.

Election judges have seen an increase in voter turnout this afternoon, but Allen said its not clear if turnout will continue increasing this evening as people return home from work.

The turnout was heavier in Republican strongholds, where voters went to the polls knowing they would play an important role in the battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum for the GOP presidential nomination.

The day began with ballot problems in nearly a quarter of Illinois counties. Some ballots were too large to fit into scanning machines in 24 counties and the city of Aurora.

Election officials said all votes would be counted despite the mix-up, although the tally could take longer in the affected counties, said Jane Gasperin, of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Champaign County clerk Gordy Hulten said turnout in his central Illinois county was “slow and steady,” and he predicted that about 35,000 ballots would be cast there, which would put its voter turnout at about 28 percent.

The lagging campaigns of Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got votes, and polling officials said at least a few voters said they were Democrats but asked for Republican ballots.



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