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Primary Election Draws Paltry Turnout

Unseasonably warm temperatures, presidential race doesn't draw voters.

It’s a familiar song, and you hear it after every election: turnout was dismal, below even the lowest expectations.

Tuesday’s primary election was no exception. Even with unseasonably warm weather, voters mainly stayed away during the 13 hours the polls were open, leaving the decisions to less than a quarter of the registered voters in Kendall County.

This led to some races and referendum questions being decided by very few voters. In Oswego, for example, a question about electricity aggregation was decided by only 3,962 voters.

Some candidates complained about the lack of voter participation. In the 11th Congressional District, attorney Juan Thomas, who for the Democratic nomination to Bill Foster, said he believes the low turnout played a part.

And Oswego's Scott Gryder, who for Kendall County Board, said election authorities offer plenty of chances to vote, with early, grace period and absentee voting available before Election Day.

“I don’t understand why there’s not more of a turnout and people don’t take a greater interest in it,” he said. “I also understand that we have (busy lives).”

Kendall County saw only about 22 percent turnout, according to County Clerk Debbie Gillette. She said Tuesday’s numbers were even down from the last non-presidential primary, in 2004 – that election drew about 27 percent of the voters, she said.

Most of the Kendall voters were Republicans as well - GOP voters cast 11,236 of the 13,930 ballots in Tuesday's election.

When asked what she thought caused such a low turnout, Gillette said, “I wish I knew. You can't say it was the weather." 

Gillette said the key to improving the turnout may be to educate young people on the importance of voting. Her son, she said, just turned 18, and even he doesn’t know the issues, or how important voting is, she said. Gillette volunteered to go to schools in the county and speak to students, hoping that would make a difference.

She also pointed out that elections are expensive, and county voters should want “to get their money’s worth.”

“People say, ‘My vote doesn’t make a difference,’” she said. “If everyone who says that would vote, it would really matter.”

Paul L. March 22, 2012 at 11:43 AM
What amazes me even more are those who complain, yet when asked "Did you vote?", they often reply no. To all those that voted, thank you for taking the 10-15 minutes out of your life to be civic minded and wanted your voice to be heard.
Oswegomom March 22, 2012 at 12:33 PM
I completely agree Paul. If someone isn't happy with the direction our country is going- vote or don't complain! I bring all 3 of my kids with me to vote and remind them not everyone in the world has this valuable right.
Bob Allen March 22, 2012 at 01:06 PM
All county board members were up for a vote this election. You think that would bring out the voters. However, it is hard not to be cynical about Kendall County Government. As a Yorkville taxpayer, I pay property taxes to the county. I pay a 911 fee on my phone bill. At the store, I pay an extra sales tax to pay for "public safety." Then, part of the property taxes that I pay to the city of Yorkville to fix the roads, etc., may be taken by the county for "Ken Comm." Who is protecting me from those that are protecting me? My property assessment for taxes is based on the county's need for more money, not the value of my home. On top of that, the Boulder Hill area is patrolled by the county instead of municipal police. So I am paying for my Yorkville municipal police and I am paying for their municipal police, too. And their health care and their pensions. And (for a small but expensive minority) their indescretions. I vote, but I understand why some people are cynical.
Jane Enviere March 22, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Like Janet, I also brought all 3 children with me to the polls. They've been with me every single time I've voted since they were born not that many years ago. : ) On our drive over this week, I told them why we vote and how not so very long ago, that right was denied to all but a few select people. We talked about how it is our *responsibility * to vote. I hope that we are raising children who will not fall into the trap of being lazy, disinterested, unaware, uninvolved and unengaged. Because that's what it boils down to, the vast majority of the time.
Karen Gerrity March 22, 2012 at 02:21 PM
This election affected so many areas of our lives from the Presidential race, Kendall county board race, Ken Comm, electricity referendum to the judges race yet the turnout was very low, the apathy bewildering. The weather was beautiful on Election Day. There was really no excuse.
Matthew Lenell March 22, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Don't bash Boulder Hill. We pay taxes too and for paltry police protection at best. Police response is slower than what you get and we get one to two police cars patrolling an expanse nearly as big as your town. Look some other direction for your whining.
Matthew Lenell March 22, 2012 at 02:48 PM
There was a push by Democrats I know to vote on the Republican ballot so that they could vote for Santorum. It might have something to do with the lopsided turnout by Republicans.
Kay March 22, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Noone votes because nothing changes anyway-just more crooked politicians doing what serves themselves best. It is always trying to choose the lesser of two evils. People get fed up listening to all the talk prior to the vote-you can not believe anything anyone says anymore!
Bob Allen March 22, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I totally agree with you. Boulder Hill subdivision should annex to Montgomery. This would solve your problems and mine, too!
Katy K March 22, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Do you have to vote for every seat or can you vote for 1 person and the referendums.
Rennetta March 23, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Katy K, You can vote for the issues and candidates you choose to vote for. If you undervote a race or skip a public question it does not mean the rest of your votes won't count. And if the contest has mulitple positions to fill, such as the county board contest, if you only wish to vote for 1 candidate and leave the other ovals blank, your vote will count for that 1 candidate. If there is a candidate running unopposed and you don't vote for her/him, all the votes you have cast (by filling in the ovals) for other candidates will still count. If you filled in 1 oval on the entire ballot and left all the rest blank, it would still count. What you cannot do is overvote. If there are 2 candidates and you fill in both ovals, that contest/race will not count -- if you properly voted on other races they will all count. I hope this helps you in future voting.
Richard B. Ayers March 23, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Good answer. I would only add the election judge who puts your ballot into the machine is supposed to notify you if you under voted to ensure you did not inadvertently overlook an issue and/or a candidate. Once you acknowledge the undervote you can either retrieve the ballot and continue voting or tell the judge just to push the count button.
Rennetta March 23, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Thanks. Sorry but I'm going to have to clarify some things you've said as election protocols change. You should be encouraged to put your ballot into the optical scanner yourself with the Election Judge standing by. Other than to check for the Judge's initials at the top of the ballot - an election judge should not be looking at anyone's ballot -- I hope you are referring to the machine sounding an alert (ours beep). The State of Illinois approved an undervote alert solely for its Constitutional Offices. If you undervote one of those 5 Illinois offices your ballot will kick back for additional review.
Brett Wolff March 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Kay is right. Maybe if the politicians actually work for the people that get them elected instead of the money that gets them on the ballot, then more people might vote.
mecando March 26, 2012 at 10:32 PM
I will vote for the working middle class and the true American party that has a heart. I will be voting for Obama and the Dems 100% and maybe together we can fix the many years of death and distruction caused by the far right Repubs.........

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