Romeoville resident Jim Zupancic votes in the Plainfield Township Administrative Center Tuesday, March 20, 2012, in Plainfield. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 20, 2012 11:18PM
JOLIET — Voter turnout for Tuesday’s primary was much lower than four years ago. low Tuesday in Will County, County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said.
Based on early voting numbers, Will County, County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots previously had predicted a 30 percent turnout. Now, that number appears to be even lower.
“When we talked to the polling places and judges, voter turnout was low. So my estimate may even be high,” she said Tuesday night.
The last presidential primary, in 2008, drew a 43 percent turnout, Voots said.
However, all results from Tuesday are unofficial until provisional and grace-period ballots are counted in two weeks, she said.
Those who did cast ballots Tuesday said they felt a sense of duty.
“Voting is important because if you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice,” said Charisse Beach.
Hungarian-born John Gothard said he votes simply because he is an American citizen. He said that participating in elections is decreasing, something he considers to be a problem.
Another man, Melvin Cornelius, recalled what it was like for African-Americans back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. He agreed that voting is an important part of being free.
“One vote is one vote,” he said.
There weren’t many people who vocalized a loyalty to a political party. Those who did had strong opinions.
“I’m voting all Republican, if that tells you anything,” said Don Carlson, who claims the economy is main reason why he voted. “The country is being destroyed by socialism.”
Beach said she wanted to vote this primary more than ever.
“I want to keep those idiots, those Republican idiots out of the realm of possibility of winning,” she said. “That’s my main concern.”
Marianne Manley said she came to vote not only to support President Obama, but also because of Joliet’s electricity referendum.
“It’s a good responsibility of every American citizen to have the right to vote, and sometimes the primary candidates are more important than the ones who are actually running,” she said.
“We don’t have a lot of choice since many of the candidates are running unopposed,” said Tom Manley.
Several people asked not to be mentioned by name. They said their vote was a private right as Americans.
“It is our duty, that’s for sure,” one woman said. “If we didn’t do it, a lot of things would be taken away from us.”
Some voters were hopeful that Illinois could be a swing state in the race.
“It’s exciting. We could be a deciding factor,” said Kerry Schaefer, a Republican voter from Mokena.
“Illinois could make a difference. I don’t know if it will,” said Dianne Ross, a Homer Glen voter. “That’s what makes it exciting. Nothing is a given. People are not always predictable.”
Despite the focus on the Republican presidential candidates, there were other reasons people came to the polls on a beautiful March day — including local Democratic races and referendums.
“The Republicans have put on such a poor showing I felt I had to support the Democratic candidates,” said Suzi Opoka, of New Lenox.
Ron Kastner, of Mokena, voted “to get some Democrats elected because they are for the working people,” he said.
Angie Holland and Sheri Elsouso were against deer culling, saying they moved to Homer Glen for its natural beauty.
Culling is “cruel,” Holland said. “That is not living in harmony with nature.”
Rgarding the presidential race, she said, “I’m not too sure about that.”
L.V. Cutforth, of Homer Glen, said the forest district should have allowed — and charged for — bowhunting.
“They could have made money on this,” he said. “but, no, they’re not that brilliant.”
Some polling places in Will County changed. Cutforth went to the wrong one and said that if he could find the right now, he would be “voting for Herbert Hoover.”
Voots said she reduced the number of polling places from 445 to 303, citing early voting, expected low voter turnout and a need to save money.
Staff writer Tony Graf and freelancer Erin Gallagher contributed to this story.