Illinois’ “Embarrassing” TurnoutFebruary 2, 2010 - 9:12 PM | by: Marla Cichowski
The polls are now closed and the man responsible for making sure voting in Chicago goes smoothly calls today’s voter turnout “very low” and “very quiet.” Chicago Board of Election Chairman, Langdon Neal, predicts voter turnout in the city will be in the 25-30% range. “We are headed for very low turnout today, we’ll be lucky to get 30 percent,” Neal told reporters during a conference call this evening. As of 8pm CDT, the Board of Election’s website is reporting voter turnout hovering around 22 percent.
Neal said he doesn’t think today’s snowy weather throughout the Chicago area had a huge impact on the light turnout at the polls. He says the bigger factor is Illinois’ first in the nation primary date, February 2. ”The early date did play a role here and perhaps there was some voter fatigue with this election cycle, ” Neal said.
Langdon admitted if voter turnout does not reach at least 30% in Chicago it would be “embarrassing ” and “very very unfortunate.” There are approximately 1.4 million registered voters in the city.
Downstate, voter turnout in a handful of counties was reported to be as low as 13 to 15 percent. Neal said that was “pretty consistent with four years ago,” during the primary election in 2006.
On top of voters choosing to not show up at the polls, the Chicago’s Board of Election had to deal with a few drunk election workers. Neal says three election judges were removed from their jobs for showing up drunk to the polls this morning. “There were three separate incidents in the city.” Neal said two of the workers disappeared at one point during the morning hours and when they reappeared they were “disruptive and agitated.” All three were sent home.
When a reporter on the conference call asked Neal, “Maybe they (the drunk election workers) were bored?” (due to light turnout) the Chairman chuckled and said “Yeah, well, maybe.”