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Morton Times-News - Morton, IL
  • Voter turnout a mixed bag

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  • Tazewell County voters had another long night waiting for vote tabulations to come in.
     
    At 8:30 p.m. the results from the county’s first of 130 precincts were reported. By 9 p.m. only 10 were counted.
     
    Tazewell’s results were slow compared to the smaller Mason County, which had final results by 8:30 p.m.
     
    Tazewell’s news was good when it came to early voting.
     
    Tazewell County Election Supervisor Moira Hartley at 7:15 p.m. predicted a larger turnout in this presidential election than the 2008 contest between current President Barack Obama and Republican rival John McCain.
     
    In 2008, 64.40 percent of registered voters cast ballots. She is predicting that more than 65 percent of registered voters cast votes during this election.
     
    “I talked to the people out in the county (precincts) and they had big turnouts in almost all of the precincts,” said Hartley. “We didn’t expect this many.”
     
    The county had 7,202 participate in pre-Election-Day voting, including absentee, grace period and early voting. In 2008, there were 7,322 votes cast prior to Election Day. More ballots are expected to come in. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by midnight the day prior to the election to be counted.
     
    The county has 101,540 registered voters, but only 89,272 of those are active voters. Inactive voters can vote in federal elections only.
     
    Voter turnout in Mason County came in at just under 61 percent, just as County Clerk Bill Blessman had predicted Monday.
     
    According to Blessman, the county received a total of about 800 pre-election ballots, which was more than ever before. Blessman said that while early voting has “been around for a while” it was just recently moved back closer to the election to a time when the election is more prominent in voters’ minds, and that is probably what made it so popular this year.
     
    However, as Blessman expected, an increase in early voting did not translate to an increase in total voter participation.
     
    “What we’ve noticed is that no matter what we do with voting as far as accessibility the turnout stays the same,” Blessman said. “I would estimate that our overall turnout will be 60-62 percent.”
     
    Voter turnout for presidential elections has consistently been around 6,500 people, which equals 60-62 percent of total registered voters, though that percentage reached a high of about 65 percent in 2004, Blessman said. On Nov. 6, there were 6,348 votes cast.

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