Primary elections were held across the state of Illinois on Tuesday, March 18. The election gave voters the chance to influence who will represent them at the state and local levels.
Early and absentee voting began in late-February and March for Alexander and Pulaski Counties and was wrapped up over the weekend. Alexander County Clerk and Election Authority Frances Lee opened her office on Saturday to accomodate the last of early voting in the county.
Af 11:00 a.m. on Saturday only five voters had come through the office. The low numbers correlated with state-wide predictions of a low voter turnout.
“It’s been very quiet so far this election,” said Lee. “I think a lot of people have stopped caring. John Q. Public is sick of the back-and-forth fighting between the different sides.”
Lee also cited the small amount of campaign advertising in the area as a factor in the low turnout.
“Usually there are signs and advertisements everywhere,” said Lee. “That’s how people know that there’s an election approaching. There isn’t much of that around this year.”
Monday afternoon saw the distribution of election equipment. Election judges for the county picked up their precinct’s ballots and M100 voting systems. The judges are responsible for the delivery as well as the return of the equipment after the election.
As the voting machines began leaving the County Clerk’s office late Monday afternoon, workers and election judges milled about and conversed with eachother.
“I’m starting to get all nerved up,” said Ellen Henderson-Bigham, a candidate for Alexander County Clerk.
The most closely watched race in this year’s primary election is that for representation in the election for Governor of Illinois.
With five candidates on the ballot in Alexander County, three being Republican, the possibility for change throughout the state is a possibility.
Election judge Vernon Stubblefield had only nine voters come through his precinct at the Alexander County Courthouse by 2 p.m. The slow trickle of voters left judges time to converse and offer ther opinions on the primary election.
“You would think that because of the number of Republican candidates on the ballot there would be more people from the party out voting,” said Vernon.
The Cairo Airport had only 14 voters come through the precinct by 2:30 in the afternoon.
“Some people would sure help the time go by quicker,” said Curtis Jones, and election judge at the Cache precinct.
As polling wound down, workers in the Alexander County Clerk’s office began counting and processing absentee ballots. The process involves comparing records and signatures on previously submitted documents to weed out anyone attempting to vote more than once. Approximately 165 absentee and early ballots were processed and then added to the final tally by the County Clerk’s staff.
By 8:30 p.m. ten of the eleven precincts had reported back with a total eligible turnout of 14.5 percent. Thebes, which struggled with tabulation issues, reported at 9:05 p.m.
A closely watched aspect of the election was the race for Illinois Senate representation. Senator Durbin was opposed by Republicans Jim Oberweis and Doug Traux. Strong opposition to Democrats has been major local news in recent months.
Senator Durbin ran unopposed on the Democratic ticket for position of senator and garnered a majority of votes in Alexander and Pulaski Counties.
Oberweis was victorious on the Republican side of the Senate race with 64 percent of the vote in Alexander County.
Tio Hardiman upset Pat Quinn for nomination to represent the Democratic Party for Illinois Governor in both Alexander and Pulaski Counties.
The complete tabulation revealed that 19.36 percent of eligible voters in Alexander County voted, just shy of the predicted 20 percent. In Pulaski County 18.64 percent of eligible voters took a trip to the polls.
1,082 total votes were cast in Alexander County and 864 in Pulaski County.
George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen