Local elections see increase in voter turnout from permanent vote by mail
CENTRAL ILLINOIS (25News Now) - Turnout is usually low for April local elections, but now they’re looking a little different.
Election officials believe it’s due to permanent vote by mail.
“Vote by mail has just gone through the roof,” said Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman.
Aside from the last election in November, this is the first April election where ballots were automatically sent to voters if they registered to be a permanent mail-in voter.
While April elections have historically low turnouts for voters, that hasn’t been the case for this election. Election officials are attributing it to the new system.
Ackerman believes a majority of the people are newly registered voters.
“I think they’re individuals that would have forgotten about the April election, but they had a reminder. They had a ballot in front of them where they could cast that vote,” said Ackerman.
Ackerman says the previous April election in 2019 had a 9% voter turnout of some 93,000 people registered in Tazewell County. Now, he thinks they’ll see a 20%-25% turnout this April.
Bloomington is seeing the same results ahead of the election.
“It looks like we’ve already almost surpassed the number of total votes in that election that we had in 2019, even before election day,” said Luke Stremlau, executive director of the Bloomington Election Commission.
Stremlau attributes the numbers to permanent vote by mail status, among some 54,000 registered voters in Bloomington.
“In this 2019 election we sent out roughly 540 votes by mail ballots, as opposed to the 6,000 that we sent out for this election,” said Stremlau.
This election also has highly contested races throughout the area from mayoral, to city council and school board positions and the Unit 5 School referendum.
Again in Peoria County, another increase in voter turnout attributed to permanent vote by mail.
“Local elections matter and they matter than most people think,” said Jessily Joseph, assistant executive director at the Peoria County Election Commission.
There is still time to mail in ballots, as long as they are postmarked by April 4. Polls open at 6 am and close at 7 pm. Results are expected to come in shortly after.
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