News Local/State

Hulten: Early Primary Turnout More Than Twice 2012 Total

Campaign signs in front of the Brookens Administrative Center

Campaign signs begin to fill the lawn in front of the Champaign County Brookens Administrative Center Monday. Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media

If early voting in Champaign County is any indication, turnout may be high for the Illinois Primary, or just a little higher than usual, if Macon County is a better example.  On Monday, the last day before the Primary, Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten said early voting turnout has more than doubled from the 2012 primary election.

“Probably close to 9,000 ballots will be cast in Champaign County prior to Election Day,” said Hulten. “Four years ago, we had about 3,600. The big question is, does that mean more people are going to show up on Tuesday, for Election Day? Or does that mean that a bunch of people have banked their votes early?”

Hulten says his office will be ready for Tuesday’s primary election, whatever the turnout is.

He says the increased turnout in early voting has occurred in the last ten days.  Hulten believes the higher turnout is primarily due to increased interest in the presidential races as the primary draw near - and not the moderate expansion in early voting days and locations.

Macon County Clerk Stephen Bean also credits interest in the presidential race for an increased early voter turnout in his county--- but he says the increase is only a slight one.

Bean also says many voters this year are voicing a reluctance to declare a party affiliation.  He advocates for a nonpartisan blanket primary.

"I would like us to go to a California ballot, where it lists all the parties, and then you can only vote for president in one category, or U.S. Senator in one category," he said. "You can't vote for multiple candidates."

Voter turnout for primary elections in Champaign County was 32 percent in 2000, 25 percent in 2004, 35.6 percent in 2008 and 21 percent in 2012, counting ballots cast in both Early Voting and on Primary Election Day.

Statewide, Illinois polls will be open Tuesday for the 2016 Illinois Primary from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.