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McLean County Early Voting Up 131% From Last Midterm Election

Carleigh Gray

McLean County has already seen twice the number of early voters for Tuesday’s election than during the last midterm election—with the busiest final days still coming up this weekend.

Around 7,200 people have already voted early in Bloomington-Normal and elsewhere in McLean County, election officials said Thursday. That’s a huge increase from the 3,100 early voters during the last midterm and gubernatorial election in 2014.

“It’s exciting. This is a democracy. That’s what we want,” said Denise Cesario, director of elections for the McLean County clerk’s office.

Cesario said early voting turnout may rival that of a presidential election year, when turnout is historically at its highest. Over 16,000 people voted early in all of McLean County in the last presidential election (2016).

Bloomington Election Commission Executive Director Paul Shannon said he expects to see 300 to 400 more early voters each day on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, when early voting ends. Election Day itself is Tuesday.

Between early voters and vote-by-mail, Bloomington is already at 11 percent turnout. Pre-election turnout was around 25 percent in 2016, Shannon said.

“It’s an extremely heavy pace,” Shannon told GLT. “People are more comfortable with early voting now because of the convenience factor of it.”

Of the 7,181 early voters so far in McLean County overall, around 1,008 voted at the Illinois State University early voting site, said Cesario.

The same heavy early-voter turnout is happening all over Illinois.

Nearly 840,000 votes had been cast across the state as of late Wednesday afternoon, with five days of early voting remaining, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. The current early vote count surpasses the 791,000 total early votes cast in the 2014 election and is well above the 636,000 early votes cast at this point in the 2014 election cycle. In 2016, 1.013 million early votes had been cast with five days of early voting left.

“This year’s early voting totals are especially noteworthy because they are almost keeping pace with figures from the last presidential election,” Illinois State Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich said in a statement. “Voter turnout for presidential elections in Illinois typically is much higher than for midterms.”

The Bloomington Election Commission administers elections for city residents. The clerk's office runs elections for everywhere else in McLean County, including Normal.

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