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Local News

Turnout low for early voting

JOLIET – Early voting has gotten off to a slow start so far at Will County sites ahead of the April 7 consolidated election. At stake are local, mayoral and village president races.

Joliet resident Dieter Lapello was voter No. 47 to cast a ballot at the Joliet Park District’s Inwood Athletic Club since early voting kicked off Monday.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain,” said Lapello, who voted before noon Monday. “I feel it’s my duty to vote.”

Lapello said he was worried his erratic work schedule may prevent him from voting on Election Day, so he cast a ballot Tuesday after his usual workout at the Joliet fitness center.

Some of the busier polling places Tuesday morning included the Will County Clerk’s office, the Joliet Park District, the village of Homer Glen and the village of New Lenox.

Low turnout

Since Monday, 837 early votes had been cast at the county’s two dozen polling places, according to the Will County Clerk’s office. Another 246 were cast through the Will County Clerk’s office between Feb. 26 and March 20.

Low turnout is expected since 2015 is a non-presidential election year. But longtime election judge Lois Tomac said so much work and effort goes into the election process that it’s a shame more people don’t cast ballots.

“It’s frustrating because this election should really count. These are your local mayors being selected and your local government races at stake,” said Tomac, one of three election judges at the Joliet Park District polling place Tuesday. “It’s so important.”

With 42 years of election judge experience under her belt, Tomac said she was smart enough to bring a book, while other election judges manning the polling place had newspapers to read during the downtime.

Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said she treats each election the same – whether there’s 10 percent or 90 percent turnout.

“They get a personal invite to vote in the mail. There’s in-person, absentee. There’s no excuse not to vote,” Schultz Voots said.

Just 18.9 percent of the county’s 376,923 registered voters cast ballots in the April 5, 2011, consolidated primary. That’s weak in comparison to the last presidential race in November 2012, when 71.25 percent of Will County registered voters cast ballots.

What to expect

The Will County Clerk’s office at 302 N. Chicago St. in Joliet and the Joliet Park District location at 3000 W. Jefferson St. serve all Will County residents, but there’s also two dozen other early voting sites throughout the county.

Where you can cast a ballot is indicated on your voter registration card. That information also is available at www.thewilcountyclerk.com.

To cast an early ballot, registered voters must have a valid government-issued photo ID.

Early voting runs until April 4. Offices are closed for Easter Sunday, then voting starts up again April 6, but is only available at the Will County Clerk’s office that day. Polling places located throughout the county will open on April 7 – Election Day.

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