Around the region, voter turnout ranged from 37%-41% in the primary this week.
McDonough County Clerk Gretchen DeJaynes said about 40% of voters cast ballots in McDonough which was more than the presidential primaries in 2008 or 2012.
“The first year Obama ran in a primary, we had a 38% turnout, so it’s not unheard of. Obviously, the presidential primary is always a little better than the off year, than the state race primary. But the turnout is a little better than I expected. I did not expect it to be over 30%,” DeJaynes said.
DeJaynes said the presidential contest was the main attraction for voters with few local contested races on the ballot.
Donald Trump won the popular vote in Illinois for Republicans, while Hillary Clinton won the state for Democrats. But U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont took McDonough, Knox, and Warren Counties in the Democratic contest.
DeJaynes said early voting remained a popular option again this year with more than 1,000 people taking advantage of short wait times to cast a ballot at the courthouse in the days leading up to the primary.
“Early voting just becomes more prevalent every election. We get more early voters every year. So this is more than we had two years ago or four years ago,” DeJaynes said.
The primary also featured same day voter registration for people who were not yet registered to vote. DeJaynes said about 100 people took advantage of the option, which made for a much busier election day.
DeJaynes said she expects even more people will want to register day of the general election in November. She does not recommend waiting that long.
“It’s not something I would recommend people doing if they didn’t have to," DeJaynes said. “If you wait until the last minute to do same day registration, you will have to expect it will take some time.”
Given the high turnout for the primary, DeJaynes said she expects voter turnout to also be up in November, possibly around 70%.
Voter Turnout in the 2016 Primary Election:
- City of Galesburg: 40%
- Hancock County: 37%
- Knox County: 38%
- McDonough County: 40%
- Warren County: 41%
Voter turnout in the primary was more than double the turnout in the 2014 primary which featured local and state races.