Chicago Election Board Chair Maricel Hernandez recently included an unusual warm weather addendum to her regular pre-election pitch that encourages voters to cast ballots in the upcoming Illinois primary: Do it before you leave town.
“If you are planning summer vacation in the coming weeks, choose to vote by mail,” she said.
Hernandez’s leave petition suggests that moving the primary election from its usual March to June 28 has created a new set of complications for election officials and candidates trying to get people to vote.
It’s the latest Illinois has held a primary since at least the Great Depression — forced more than three months because the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau’s required number of redeployments was late — and one from the Fourth of July holiday. Arrives less than a week ago.
So even though Illinois voters are facing crucial primary races for the seats of governor, secretary of state, and the US Congress, as well as down-ballot races, it raises the question: do voters even know the election. the day is coming, or Is their mind already headed to the Wisconsin Dells?
Early voting numbers so far show Chicago totals lag behind the most recent midterm.
According to the city’s election board, 1,127 votes were cast this year for the 11 days when early voting took place only at the city’s polling place, to compare with early voting in the previous midterms. In the mid-term of 2018, 2,066 votes were cast.
This year, 2,337 votes were cast on the first day of early voting across the city. On the first citywide day of 2018, 3,991 votes were cast.
Hernandez said he expects voter turnout for the non-presidential midterm primary elections to end in or near the usual low numbers.
“I think even though people are on summer vacation, we’ve gotten the word out, that they’ve taken that into account,” she said.
Election officials point out that with fewer people working in the city and more voters becoming familiar with the vote-by-mail process, many of them individual voters can throw their completed ballots in mailboxes in earlier years.
In DuPage County, Clerk Jean Kazmarek said his office has already received more than 31,900 applications for mail-in ballots, compared to 5,453 such applications received before the 2018 midterm primary.
“With applications still coming in, the 2022 primary election will move to third place for mail ballot applications, behind the 2020 normal with 212,903 and the 2018 normal with 42,338,” Kazmarek said in an emailed response.
This is despite the fact that there is no Democratic primary battle for governor, as was the case in 2018 when JB Pritzker faced five challengers, including State Sen. Daniel Biss and Kenilworth developer Chris Kennedy.
Instead, a nasty, costly Republican governor face-off is getting the most attention. That race has developed into a massive two-man campaign between Xenia’s State Sen. Darren Bailey and Aurora Mayor Richard Irwin. Others running are Bull Valley business owner Gary Rabin, Petersburg venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan, former Waterloo state Sen. Paul Schimpf and Hazel Crest attorney Max Solomon.
According to clerk John Ackerman, requests for early voting and vote-by-mail in Tazewell County, near Peoria, are running back slightly from 2018. While he expects the final numbers for those votes to be “correct about the same number or more” than last midterm, it is likely to mean fewer voters overall in the election, Ackerman said.
“We would expect to see growth in those areas, and we wouldn’t be in this election,” Ackerman said. “The whole election cycle has been thrown into the primary at the end of June”, he said.
Voter interest varies across states, proving the age-old theory that all politics is local.
In downstate Sangamon County, which includes the city of Springfield, County Clerk Don Gray said there is increasing attention to several primary competitions.
Gray said requests for vote-by-mail are 60% higher than in the 2018 midterm and 34% higher than in the 2020 presidential primary.
He pointed to the high turnout for two hotly contested congressional primaries touching parts of the county.
there is new drawn The 13th Congressional District, which has no incumbent on the ballot, but has four Republican candidates and two Democrats in the respective primaries. and a Republican primary face-off between U.S. Representative Rodney Davis of Taylorville and U.S. Representative Mary Miller of Oakland in the 15th Congressional District. They have been running against each other as Congressional districts were redrawn after the census.
“That race is clearly getting a lot of money and attention,” Gray said.
Former President Donald Trump is going to Illinois on Saturday to campaign for Miller.
Meanwhile, succeeding retired secretary of state Jesse White holds special significance in the hotly contested Democratic primary around Springfield, where so many of that office’s staff work, Gray said.
“And then we’re seeing that people are getting more used to voting by mail and voting early, and there’s more confidence in that with each election,” Gray said.