Election officers encouraged by early voter turnout in McLean County
This is Luke Stremlau's first election as executive director of the Bloomington Election Commission, the agency that counts the ballots in Bloomington.
Stremlau said early voting seems to be more brisk than before based on what other election officers have shared.
“When I did election judge training, I was told sometimes during early voting it would take days (or longer) to get up to 200 applications. That’s how we spindle them. We hit that, I think, day three in the office,” Stremlau said.
Early and mail-in voting numbers generally increase over time as more voters become accustomed to it. Stremlau expects that will continue in Bloomington, now that the city has started to issue permanent vote-by-mail applications. They make up a majority of more than 6,000 mail-in ballots requested in this election.
Stremlau said if early and mail-in voting are any indication, he projects turnout will be higher than in the last midterm election in 2018, when more than 60% of Bloomington voters cast ballots.
“It seems that in the past years, people have gotten more and more excited about voting — or at least are louder about it — and I think that is driving more and more voters out,” Stremlau said.
More than 13,000 McLean County voters have cast ballots ahead of next week's election. A majority of those are by mail. About 13% of Bloomington’s 54,000 registered voters have cast ballots. Turnout is a bit lower in the rest of the county (11%) among its more than 59,000 voters.
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael, whose office runs elections in the rest of the county, including the Town of Normal, projects turnout at about 65%. That would top the county’s 2018 mark of 61%.
Early voting is available at Bloomington's Eastland Mall and both election offices for the city and county. There are two early voting sites on the Illinois State University campus — Bone Student Center and Watterson Towers.
The midterm election includes the race for governor, Congress, state legislature, and McLean County Board among others.