News Local/State

Early Voting Up As Urbana Votes In Democratic Mayoral Primary

Rev. Evelyn Burnett Underwood, Alderwoman Diane Marlin, and Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing in a debate at the Urbana City Building, January 31st.

Rev. Evelyn Burnett Underwood, Alderwoman Diane Marlin, and Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing in a Jan. 31st debate at the Urbana City Building. Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

The polls are open from 6 AM until 7 PM in Urbana Tuesday, as voters choose a Democratic nominee for mayor in a primary election.

Urbana voters are choosing from incumbent Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing, who seeking a fourth term, and two challengers: Alderwoman Diane Marlin and the Reverend Evelyn Burnett Underwood. The winner faces Republican Rex Bradfield in the April 4th election.

As of late Monday, early voters had already cast 866 ballots.

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten says that’s more than triple the 267 ballots cast early in the Urbana mayoral primary held four years ago.

But Hulten says while early voter turnout is up, he’s not expecting a higher than average turnout overall in the primary.

“Often, if we get a late surge in early voting, that means that turnout will be heavier than we anticipate on Election Day”, said Hulten. “That was the case, for example in the 2016 primary. Turnout hasn’t really surged for this primary. It’s be sort of steady.  So I think we’ll see pretty typical turnout for voters on Tuesday.”

Hulten says the growing popularity of early voting itself is a factor in the higher turnout before Election Day.

“Once a voter tries early voting, or voting by mail once, they’re very likely to do it again”, said Hulten. “We had 40,000 people countywide take advantage of it for the November election we just had. And I expect that a good number of those folks are going to continue to be early voters, regardless of the election type.”

The Democratic mayoral primary is the only item on the ballot in Urbana for the February 28th primary election.  Turnout in the 2013 primary was low – 9.75% of Urbana’s registered voters in the primary, when the mayor and city clerk races were the only items on the ballot.  Urbana’s voter turnout was just 12.89% in the general municipal election.

Hulten says he expects the final primary results this year to be ready relatively early on Tuesday night, by 10 PM.