Thousands of Adams and Pike county residents are expected to cast their ballots in the coming weeks as early voting for the March 17 primary election gets underway.
The primary elections will determine the major party nominees who will appear on the ballot in November for various offices, including the party nominees for president, U.S. Senate, the state's congressional districts, judicial and statehouse candidates.
Local ballots also include Republican Party primary races for circuit court judge and county coroner in Adams County and a race for state's attorney in Pike County. There are other races on the ballots, but the candidates are unopposed in the party primary.
Election officials in both Adams and Pike counties are expecting turnout to be higher due to the contested local races.
“We don't think we will be extremely busy at first, but we think it will start to pick up as we get closer to Election Day,” Adams County Clerk Chuck Venvertloh said. He said he expects that as many as 10,000 Adams County voters will cast their votes ahead of the election. The staff at the Adams County Clerk's office will begin mailing ballots to those who chose to vote by mail this week. Applications requesting ballots can be found on the county's website or be requested in-person at the Adams County Clerk's Office, 507 Vermont.
“Overall, I am expecting turnout for the primary to be about 50%,” Venvertloh said. “I think the presidential race will certainly get a lot of people out, but I also think the local coroner's race and judge's race will really drive people to the polls.”
In Pike County, staff in the county clerk's office say they anticipate 800 people will cast ballots in the early voting for the primary and an estimated 1,600 people to vote early for the general election in November.
Election officials in both counties say it is not too late to register to vote, but that they would encourage those interested in registering to contact their offices sooner rather than later.
“The registration deadline is Feb. 18 to be able to vote in this election,” Venvertloh said.
Options for registering to vote include going online to the Illinois Secretary of State's website, same-day registration at polling places and registering in the county clerk's office.
In Illinois, voters do not need to pick a political party when they register to vote, so Illinois primary elections are considered open. But voters must state a party affiliation when they get to the polling place, in order to cast a vote in the party's primary.
Election officials in both counties touted the benefits of voting early. In Pike County, those who vote early can choose to vote via paper ballot or to be one of the first voters to use the county's new touch-screen voting machines. In Adams County, those who vote early will be able cast their vote more quickly than those who wait to vote on Election Day.
“For early voting, a lot of people will be able to come in, vote and be out of the office in less than 10 minutes,” Venvertloh said. “We'd love for as many people as possible to vote early because that cuts down on the lines on Election Day. The sheer fact of the matter is that long lines on Election Day upset everybody. We hardly ever have long lines for early voting.”