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WGLT's reporting on the November 2020 election cycle.

1 In 5 McLean County Voters Has Already Cast Their Ballot

Mall voting location
Ryan Denham
Early voting is available at Eastland Mall and other locations in McLean County this month.

One in five registered voters in McLean County has already cast their ballot, and a local election official says it’s possible overall turnout will top 80%.

There are around 112,600 registered voters in McLean County, served by two election authorities (county clerk and Bloomington Election Commission). More than 30,000 of them have requested vote-by-mail ballots, and over 10,500 of those already had been returned as of Tuesday, officials said. Another 10,700-plus have early voted in person. That means turnout already is about 20%.

And that’s with tons of early voting, vote-by-mail, and Election Day ballots still to come.

“Eighty percent (turnout) is not out of the woods. I would expect it to be around there, or higher,” said Tim Mitchell, executive director of the Bloomington Election Commission.

Turnout in McLean County was 73% in 2016, during the last presidential election.

The pandemic already has made this an unusual election year, with many voters opting to vote by mail. There also are many early voting locations in McLean County, with even more set to open Oct. 26 at Illinois State University. Weekend options are now available, too.

It’s clear some people are changing their voting plans. In Bloomington; more than 1,200 people who requested a vote-by-mail ballot decided to surrender that ballot so they could vote in person, said Mitchell. McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael, whose office covers Normal and the rest of the county, said she did not have data on how often that has happened in her jurisdiction.

“One thing that’s important for voters to understand is that on Election Day, they cannot bring their completed vote-by-mail ballot to the polling place and turn in that ballot,” Mitchell said. “So, if they want to take their vote-by-mail ballot that they’ve completed, they’d have to drop that off at our office or the arena. Now that doesn’t stop them from going to the polling place and turning that ballot in, us canceling it, and then voting in person. They just can’t go and drop it off.”

Michael said she had “no idea” what overall turnout would be come Nov. 3.

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Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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