Tazewell, Peoria election officials predict turnout for midterm elections

(Taylor Johnson, KCTV5)
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 4:28 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Election day is two weeks away, and thousands in local election precincts have already cast early or mail-in ballots.

Tazewell County reports over 10,000 early voters so far. The Peoria Election Commission estimates around the same turnout between early and mail-in voters. Executive Director of the PEC Elizabeth Gannon said they think their numbers will rise. Historically, the last two weeks before the election is when more voters cast ballots early.

Another added change is the edition of permanent vote-by-mail ballots. PEC sent out around 15,000 permanent mail-in ballots. So far, they’ve received about half of them back. Typically the office gets back nearly all of the ballots they mail out. Gannon noted the new system automatically sends a ballot out to someone without requesting it, which might change their turnout numbers.

Conventional wisdom about political science is applying less and less to the most recent election cycles. Associate Professor of Political Science Carl Palmer said stereotypes about certain voting populations aren’t playing out in the polls anymore.

“We’ve seen in previous elections, the story is that young voters don’t vote,” Palmer said. “But we’ve seen that young turnout age 18 to 25, 18 to 29 has been creeping up not only in presidential elections but in midterm elections.”

The 2022 midterms also seem to have higher stakes than the usual election cycle. Between political advertisements debating reproductive healthcare and the ever-present issue of the economy, congressional and state-level races are taking on more of a limelight than before.

“Presidential elections, they’re nationalized, you’re voting for one person. But I think as the case is made for congressional elections being national elections as well, you’re voting for a representative and maybe a senator,” Palmer said, “the stakes are seeming higher as well.”

The result of the midterms will determine which political party controls Congress and serve as a referendum on President Joe Biden’s performance so far. Historically, the party in power tends to do poorly in the midterm elections. Palmer said polling and data throughout the year have shown things to be more complicated, though it isn’t clear how things will shake out.