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2020 Early, Mail-In Voting Toppling Peoria-Area Records

Election "I Voted" stickers on display.
Hans Pennink
Election "I Voted" stickers on display.

More Peoria-area voters than ever are casting their ballots before Election Day on Tuesday.

According to election officials, vote-by-mail and early voting participation already is at some unprecedented levels.

Tom Bride, executive director of the Peoria County Election Commission, said 19,217 early votes had been cast as of Thursday morning, and mail-in returns are even higher

“Early voting is real brisk,” said Bride, noting Peoria County has always had one of the highest early-voting percentages in Illinois. “We're definitely on point to pass 2016 and maybe get close to 2008, which is our record numbers for early voting.

“Then vote-by-mail is through the roof--we've had almost 26,000 ballots returned now, out of 34,000 sent out.”

In Tazewell County, early voting has produced 14,730 ballots so far, including 4,983 last weekend alone-- more than the 4,718 filed early during the entire 2016 election cycle.

“We actually anticipated an increase this year, but it was a minor increase of 5-10% We weren't looking at the increase we've seen,” said Tazewell County Clerk Ackerman, adding that 12,400 vote-by-mail ballots have been received out of more than 25,000 distributed.

“So there's still a large portion that could be turned in here as we approach Election Day,” he said. “Those numbers are just off the charts, both of them record-breaking--record-shattering--numbers here in Tazewell County.”

Both officials think the high early participation will likely result in lower turnout at polling places on Tuesday.

“We've traditionally had 50-55,000 people on Election Day,” said Bride, “and I think that number is going to be a lot closer to 40,000.”

Ackerman said he anticipated eclipsing 75,000 total votes in the county--and the early participation ballots already have reached 37% of that total.

“So on Election Day itself, I think we are going to see lower-than-usual turnout at our polling locations,” he said. “But that's because we've seen massive crowds for early voting and for vote-by-mail.”

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Copyright 2021 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Joe Deacon is a reporter at WCBU.