JOLIET – After a not-so-smooth March primary election for voters at various polling locations in Will County, Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots and her staff made several adjustments ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
By all accounts, it worked well. The clerk’s office announced last week a voter turnout of 74.51 percent with 306,410 ballots cast.
It’s the highest percentage turnout since the 2008 general election, when 76.14 percent of registered voters cast ballots. The total number of ballots cast in November was the highest ever in Will County. The previous high was 284,661, according to data on the county clerk’s website.
“I was impressed with voter turnout,” Schultz Voots said. “We accomplished our goal.”
Complications in March were created by the passage of a new same-day voter registration law that caused long lines, and in some cases, registered voters went home rather than waiting in line.
In June, the Will County Board signed off on the purchase of 375 electronic poll books and necessary equipment for each at a total cost of $426,292. This allowed the clerk’s office to place three poll books at each polling place instead of two.
Additional election judges were hired as well, and more training was given to all election judges, Schultz Voots said.
The clerk’s office encouraged voters to vote early and vote by mail, a new feature added to voter cards that are sent to voters’ homes. Schultz Voots was pleased with the turnout in both forms.
There were 25,790 votes cast by mail and 63,236 votes cast at early-polling places. There were 7,468 same-day registration ballots cast.
The clerk’s office already is taking requests for vote-by-mail ballots in the April election, and Monday is the first day for candidates to file petitions.
“We wanted to make sure there were no lines,” Schultz Voots said. “People were able to vote in the privacy of their own homes or at early-voting sites. People have options; now I just hope they come out to vote in April.”