BLOOMINGTON — Election officials in Central Illinois were generally satisfied with Tuesday’s voter turnout, which averaged less than 50 percent.
That figure compares to a national average of 40 percent, slightly higher than the mid-term election held in 2002.
“It was not as good as I wanted it to be, but it was fairly good,” said Peggy Ann Milton, clerk in McLean County, where turnout was 45 percent.
“I’m very satisfied,” said Charlene Stanford, executive director of the Bloomington Board of Election Commissioners, where turnout finished at 47 percent.
A month ago, Stanford would have predicted turnout of 35 percent based on comments indicating voters were largely turned off by negative campaigning, especially in the Illinois governor’s race. “But the voters did get out there, cast their votes and voted for the people they want to serve in their government,” she said Wednesday
Turnout in Milton’s jurisdiction ranged from a high of 60 percent in Normal Precinct 6 to a low of about 15 percent in Normal precincts 8 and 14, where students at Illinois State University largely ignored the polls.
“If you took that out (the student no-shows), McLean County looks pretty good,” she said. “I’m saying ‘pretty good.’ I’d love it to be 80 (percent).”
Turnout in Bloomington started strong, but tailed off. Stanford said 30 percent of the voters went to the polls before noon. Final turnout matched the 47 percent recorded during the last mid-term election in November 2002. It was 76 percent in the 2004 presidential election.
Elsewhere, DeWitt County voters decided a hotly contested race for sheriff with the re-election of incumbent Roger Massey. As in Bloomington, 47 percent of the voters went to the polls — about the same as the 2002 mid-term election. Results were slightly higher in Weldon, about 52 percent, where voters were asked whether to allow the sale of alcohol on Sunday. They said yes.
Two other area counties, Logan and Woodford, tied for the highest voter turnout in the Pantagraph area at 53 percent.
“I didn’t think it was high,” said Logan County Clerk Sally Litterly, who noted her county had a 60-percent turnout in the last mid-term election.
She thought a sheriff’s race and several referendums would be magnets. They were not. In addition, any notion that new rules allowing voters to cast ballots early would increase turnout went by the wayside, she said.
“We call it ‘election month.’ It’s no longer ‘election day,’ ” she said. “We were looking at the idea that early voting was going to bring in more voters. But those early voting people were same who would have turned out anyway.”
Woodford County Clerk Debbie Harms was pleased voters turned out in greater numbers than elsewhere.
“That’s fantastic. It shows people are interested and getting out to vote,” said Harms, pointing to one county board race and several referendums, including one regarding school taxes, as reasons voters turned out.
She also saw another cause: The weather was good.
“It snowed (on primary day),” she said.