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6,000+ voters in McLean County have cast ballots for the April 4 election

Bloomington Election Commission office
Colin Hardman
Voters living in Bloomington can vote early at the Bloomington Election Commission office at 121 N. Main St. in downtown Bloomington. Voters in Normal and elsewhere in McLean County can vote at the Government Center, right next door.

As the April 4 election draws closer, McLean County election officials say voter turnout may be higher than expected.

The ballot includes contested races for city council and school board, and a second opportunity to vote on Unit 5’s tax referendum. According to Luke Stremlau, executive director of the Bloomington Election Commission, early voting is off to a strong start.

“The early voting process hasn’t really changed,” Stremlau said. “The volume actually has surprised me a little bit. I didn’t think that we would have such a volume with this ‘smaller election.’ So I was kind of surprised by that.”

The last local election without a mayoral race was in 2019, when turnout was 12% in McLean County (including Bloomington).

In that election, about 500 mail-in ballots were requested by Bloomington voters, Stremlau said. This year, that number tops 6,000, with about 2,500 returned so far. Depending on how much early voting ramps up as the election nears, it could eclipse the entire turnout of 2019.

“In an election in 2019, we had 4,100 voters. (In this election), we’ve already received 3,200 when you count in early voting and vote-by-mail,” he said.

That’s already about a 7% turnout. Stremlau said early voters are experiencing little to no wait time, and he encouraged people to vote early if possible.

McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael, who has held the position for nearly 13 years, said consolidated elections almost always draw turnout well under 20% — less than half the usual percentage for a presidential or gubernatorial year.

“But this year’s different,” Michael said. “There’s even contested races out in the rural areas, and of course here in Normal. I think we’re going to see a busy election. Will we get to 50%? I don’t think so, but I think we might break the 20% turnout this time.”

The county clerk's office has seen 2,247 vote-by-mail ballots returned, and 696 early voters as of Sunday, according to the clerk’s website.

Early voting is available every day through Monday, April 3, in downtown Bloomington. Here’s the information for Bloomington voters. Here’s the information for voters in Normal and elsewhere in McLean County.

Voting by mail is still available, but ballots must be requested by Thursday, March 30.

Colin Hardman is a correspondent at WGLT. He joined the station in 2022.