Early voting helped primary turnout in local counties

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PARIS, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — Despite coronavirus fears, area counties saw an average to moderate voter turnout during Tuesday’s Illinois primary election, which some county clerks attributed to early voting.

“We really weren’t sure what we were going to get,” Clark County Clerk Laura Lee said. “Several came in for early voting.”

Lee said the county ended with a 32.14%, turnout with 23% of total ballots cast by early voters.

Voting started out slow in Edgar County. According to Clerk August Griffin, midway through the day, the turnout was only around 11 or 12%.

“I didn’t know how it was going to go from there,” he said. “But evidently, the voters came out towards the end of the day.”

The county ended with a voter turnout of a little over 25%.

“We saw an uptick, especially this last week, in our early voting,” Griffin noted.

Griffin said early voting accounted for 800 of the ballots cast, “which is a lot for a primary.”

“But I think with all of the hype and the hysteria with the COVID-19 virus, I think a lot of people were concerned, and rightfully so,” he said. “But we had a good turnout all-in-all.”

In contrast to nearby communities, Crawford County Clerk Fayrene Wright said early voting was “very low” in her county.

Overall, Crawford County ended with a 31% voter turnout, which Wright said was “probably about average” for an election without any local races to decide.

To help with voter turnout amid the coronavirus outbreak, Early voting hours were extended last week in Crawford County, and elderly and sick residents were encouraged to take advantage of curbside voting.

According to Wright, coronavirus concerns didn’t just impact voter turnout, but staff turnout as well.

“We had very limited staff as far as election judges,” she said. “We did have several call off just on medical advice.”

Despite being understaffed, Wright said all polling places were able to open.

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