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Kendal County Sheriff Blotter

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.”

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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