Chicago election officials report turnout is low in the primary election to find a successor to disgraced former Democratic U.S. Rep.
As of 1:45 p.m., turnout was about 11 percent among sampled city precincts, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. The figures included ballots cast today and early and absentee voting.
"This puts us on course for turnout in the mid-teens," said Jim Allen, elections board spokesman, in an e-mail. "This is to be expected with a special primary and special election. It is shaping up to be among the lowest turnouts in recent decades."
The wintry weather also likely is playing a role in the low turnout in the 2nd Congressional District, which includes parts of the South Side and south suburbs.
There are primaries for both political parties, but the 2nd District is so heavily Democratic that whoever emerges from the crowded Democratic field is expected to easily win the April 9 special general election. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Today's voting follows weeks of candidate forums, an accelerated campaign schedule and a flurry of TV ads from the mayor of New York. While the top-tier candidates among the 14
Kelly voted early. Beale and Halvorson planned to vote today. All three candidates have a slew of campaign stops scheduled before gearing up for evening parties where they'll watch the results come in.
The results of early voting held between Feb. 11 and Saturday demonstrated a lack of interest in the contest, despite its ramifications in deciding who will represent voters and their disparate interests in the vast district.
A majority of the district's Democratic voters live in suburban Cook County, with an additional one-third from the South Side. The district also includes parts of eastern Will County and all of
In suburban Cook, 4,459 early votes were cast, with 98 percent of those voters taking Democratic ballots. Of the 11 suburban early voting locations, Matteson Village Hall, in Kelly's hometown, had the most with 1,601 voters.
In Chicago, 98 percent of the 2,768 early voters cast Democratic ballots. Only 63 early votes were cast for Republicans.
In Will, 246 voters cast early ballots, all but 40 of them Democratic votes. Kankakee County officials reported 699 early ballots, with 533 voting Democrat and 166 Republican.
"I just think if it was a regular race, then they'd look a little bit different," Kelly said of the low early voting totals. "I also think because (the special primary) came so close to the November election that there's some (voter) fatigue."
But in a large field of candidates and questionable turnout, a nomination for
In an email to supporters, Kelly's campaign pleaded for volunteers to help get voters to the polls and asked for money for its get-out-the-vote field operation.