Voter turnout falls short of projections in McLean County
Voter turnout for the midterm election was lower than expected in McLean County.
A higher percentage of voters in Normal and rural McLean County cast ballots than registered voters residing in Bloomington. The Bloomington Election Commission (BEC) said voter turnout was 52.4% according to the commission’s website.
The last midterm election in 2018 saw turnout at just over 60% in Bloomington and McLean County. Election officials had expected turnout to be slightly better in this election.
“Still down a little bit, but for a midterm election, that’s pretty good,” said BEC executive director Luke Stremlau.
The McLean County Clerk's office, which oversees voting for the rest of the county, posted turnout of 60.5%.
Despite the lower-than-expected turnout, McLean County played a key role in helping tip the scales in several Illinois House and congressional races. Democrats Eric Sorensen (U.S. House), Dave Koehler (Illinois Senate) and Sharon Chung (Illinois House) all won with strong showings in the county.
Election results from all 70 precincts and vote-by-mail ballots in McLean County weren’t posted on the county website until 11:20 p.m. Tuesday, with as 4,500 vote-by-mail ballots still to be processed. The county planned to tabulate those ballots first.
Mail-in ballots cannot be counted until after the polls have closed at 7 p.m. on election day, according to Illinois law.
The BEC posted its final results at 11:03 p.m. Streamlau said the commission also planned to count vote-by-mail ballots first, but one tranche of ballots wasn’t delivered by county elections staff until about 8:30 p.m.
Stremlau said it will take time to figure out how to most efficiently process the increased number of mail-in ballots.
“Even though we can start tabulating (vote by mail) early, it still kind of snuck up on us. With the increase in vote by mail, it’s really going to evolve, and we are going to have to evolve with it so that we are best using our staff and workflow,” Stremlau said.
County clerk Kathy Michael, who won reelection on Tuesday, was not available for comment on Wednesday.
Mail-in ballots must be dropped off at drop box location anytime before 7 p.m. on election day, or be postmarked on or before election day. Mail-in ballots can be received until two weeks after the election.