Turnout slow in runoff

  • Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jim Tatum/JournalScene From left, Cheryl Ewerl,Brenda Wylie, and Susan Bailey working at the Iron Gate precincts on Trolley Road.


There’s an election happening today, but you wouldn’t know it by visiting the polling places.

Turnout for the runoff primaries has been tiny.

“The ‘lunch rush’ was what, four people?” one poll manager joked at Knightsville Elementary School, where 75 people, or 2.53 percent of the voters registered there, had shown up by 1:45 p.m.

Voter turnout remained light throughout the afternoon. Most precincts reported sporadic turnout but no crowds.

Iron Gate precincts reported 91 of more than 1,400 votes cast as of about 3:30 p.m.

“They can’t blame the rain,” said one pollworker. “But you really can’t expect a huge turnout. It’s a shame, but what can you do?”

Oakbrook 1 and 2 precincts reported around 34-40 ballots cast as of about 4 p.m.; the story was about the same next door with the Tranquil 1 and 2 precincts, with some 68 ballots cast. Still, despite the light turnout on June 10 and today, there were moments that brought the importance of it all home, noted Poll Clerk Paul Werksman.

During the primary on June 10, a woman came into the poll; it was the first time she had ever voted in her life, Werksman said.

“She was really excited about it – she was from China, had recently moved here, and this was absolutely the first time she had ever cast a ballot,” he said. “Her enthusiasm was incredible – a lot of people take that right to vote for granted.”

Then this morning, he said, another woman came in to vote and, noting the tiny “I Voted” stickers, she told poll workers she wanted a huge sticker so she could show everyone, everywhere she went, that she had voted.

“So I made her one,” Werksman said. “That kind of excitement, that enthusiasm, really brings it all home to me. It’s great.”

Marci Newman was among those who cast a ballot today. She said the race for education superintendent drew her to the polls.

She and her husband both work in the schools, and they have a school-aged child, she said. Her vote went to Molly Spearman, one of the two women vying for the Republican nomination.

“I trust her to make decisions that directly impact me and my family every day,” Newman said.

At Newington Elementary, Pete Johnson said he arrived to vote from a sense of civic duty.

By walking through the door, he boosted the precinct’s participation up to 72 voters by 2 p.m.

Overall, turnout stood at 4.7 percent at Newington.

Poll managers at all locations said they were mostly seeing people who had voted in the primary two weeks ago, though a handful who hadn’t voted were showing up for the runoff.

The polls will remain open until 7 p.m.

The races being decided are the Democratic nomination for education superintendent and the Republican nominations for education superintendent and lieutenant governor.

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