Low turnout, few complaints throughout Fox Valley
By Erika Wurst firstname.lastname@example.org April 9, 2013 9:22AM
Election judge Ken Drennen (right) hands a ballot to Oswego resident Jennifer Lord at the Oswego Village Hall Precinct 28 in Oswego on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 11, 2013 6:23AM
With just hours left to vote today, about 6 percent of registered voters had already hit the polls in Aurora.
According to Aurora Election Commission Executive Director Linda Fechner, things are running smoothly at sites across the city.
“Election judges are checking in, and everything is going fine,” Fechner said. “I’m just glad the sun is shining now, and voters have a chance to come out without getting wet.”
Earlier this morning, election judges reported low numbers and the pace was slow at locations on both the East and West sides of Aurora. But things seem to be picking up as the day wears on, Fechner said.
Fechner said she expected higher numbers on the city’s East Side, where a heated school board race is under way, but that it was aldermanic races in the West Side wards that were drawing the highest percentage of voters in.
“Right now, we’re a little over 6 percent,” she said. “We’re still expecting 100 (percent), so the voters better get out there.”
The percentage is already up from this year’s primary election, where the turnout hovered around 4 percent.
In the 2009 municipal election, final turnout was 20.69 percent, Fechner said. She’s hoping to beat that number by day’s end.
As for polling problems, few have been reported in Aurora.
“You have one candidate calling in about another, but that’s automatic,” Fechner said. “It happens every year.”
The city’s transition to electronic poll books, which were unveiled today, has also gone smoothly, she said.
The new system allows judges to print out labels and applications solely for those who turn out to vote, avoiding unnecessary storage and printing of applications that will not be used. The system shaves about 20 seconds off the check-in process, which doesn’t sound like much, but adds up over a 13-hour day, Fechner said.
“We have tech assistants out at the sites working with the judges, and it’s going well,” she said.
Kane County Clerk John “Jack” Cunningham said things are going well in his neck of the woods, also. Cunningham said that between 135 and 140 votes are being cast per minute throughout the county, and that a little more than 8,500 votes were cast as of 3 p.m.
This total amounts to a 5.49 percent turnout, he said.
“It’s not what I’d like,” Cunningham said, hoping for a larger turnout. By the end of the day, Cunningham hopes that 15,000 votes will be cast, on top of the 5,186 early votes received.
Cunningham said that an officer and marked squad have been placed at each of the county’s 17 school polling locations to ensure the safety of students. This new initiative began during the primary election.
“We are making every effort for people to be comfortable, and that schools are safer on Election Day than any other,” he said.
DuPage Election Commission Executive Director Robert Saar said things are fairly slow at polls throughout his county.
“Right now, it’s pretty quiet,” he said around 3 p.m. “We’ll have to wait and see (what final turnout will be), but I suspect that by 10 p.m. tonight we will know who won most races, unless there’s a real squeaker.”
Saar said he is expecting the average 19 to 22 percent turnout that has been the case in past consolidated elections.
As for issues at the polls, there have been few.
“They are local elections, and some cities are pretty contentious. Poll watchers are getting into it in some areas,” he said. A police report was allegedly issued at an Oak Brook location, according to Saar.
“We’re just dealing with issues of local campaigning,” he said.
No one from Kendall County was available for comment as of 3:30 p.m.
At the Aurora Fire Station on Kenilworth Place, West Aurora High School Senior Jessica Lindberg and her fellow judges were relatively busy. Lindberg, and junior classmate Stephen Ryder, were both taking part in this year’s election as first-time judges.
“We get out of school, and we get paid,”Ryder said of his decision to participate. “I’m going to donate my money though, to get community service hours (for school).”
Election Judge Polly Mittag was helping the two man the West Aurora poll. She was excited about encouraging young residents to see democracy in action.
“This is their first opportunity to participate, even before they can vote,” she said. “They are helping make democracy work.”
At the Village Hall building in Oswego, judges were engaging in a little friendly competition among their respective precincts. Three precincts (22, 28 and 11) had polling places located in that building and some were proving to have better turnouts than others.
“We knew it would be slow, but not this slow,” lamented judge Ken Drennen.
Polls are open until 7 p.m., which makes for a long day for election judges who begin their day around 5 a.m.