With the Peoria mayor’s office and five city council seats at stake in Tuesday's municipal election, Thomas Bride expects turnout to be above average in the city – but that may not hold as true throughout the county.
Bride, the Peoria County Election Commission's executive director, said early voting participation is up 28% from two years ago, and noted February’s primary was up 6% over compared with recent primaries.
“I think we'll be above the primary election in the city of Peoria, but I think overall county-wide for this election, you're going to have areas where there's just not any really competitive races or there's maybe one, and then other areas where you have a lot of competitive races,” he said.
Peoria voters will choose between Rita Ali and Jim Montelongo to replace four-term incumbent Jim Ardis as mayor. Additionally, all five district council seats are contested.
In addition to Peoria, Bride said turnout in Elmwood could be higher than normal with four candidates – David Ramsay, David Courson, Brandon Butler, and former mayor John Hulslander – running for mayor.
“Two years ago, they (Elmwood) were 5% because they didn't have any competitive races,” said Bride. “So you get some of those kind of things. Two years ago, Dunlap had a 25% turnout for the school district because they had a very competitive race. This year, there's three people running for three spots so it's not anything driving turnout out there. So you get really spotty.”
Similarly, Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman said he expects contested mayoral races in Washington and Delavan will push in-person voting above the normal turnout.
“Just like anytime with the consolidated elections, where there are contested candidates on the ballot, that's where we'll see a high turnout,” said Ackerman, noting key township races in Groveland and Pekin as well. “This year is no different in that case.”
Ackerman said his offices have had about 600 early voters, and another 600 at the county’s off-site early voting location the past two weekends. He said turnout has ranged from 13-18% in the past three April elections dating back to 2015.
“I think we will see it a little higher because we do have more contested races than previously, especially with the big mayor’s races,” he said. “We really did see an uptick in Tazewell County in candidates coming forward this year.”
Bride said a new law signed Friday by Gov. JB Pritzker that expands vote-by-mail and curbside voting won’t be much of a factor in Tuesday's election.
“It really doesn’t have much effect on us tomorrow,” he said. “We did open our drop box on Friday afternoon as soon as he signed the bill. We'd had people having to come in and drop off their ballots. So we did open the drop box and we've had a few people use it. That was the biggest thing for us locally.”
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