DeKalb County Clerk: Election Day ran smooth despite low voter turnout

Polling places Tuesday used sanitation procedures amid lower than expected turnout

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DeKALB – DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder Doug Johnson said voting went “very well” as polls closed Tuesday night following the primary election, though he said election turnout was lower than expected.

“I have not heard one problem anywhere,” Johnson said, although he added Tuesday afternoon that voter turnout was lower than he’d like see on Election Day.

DeKalb County election judges also noticed fewer people in attendance than usual. On Monday, two voter registration sites had to close as election judges quit at the last minute. Mandates for crowd control from Gov. JB Pritzker, in an effort over the last week to stem the spread of COVID-19, didn't stop voters from turning up Tuesday, although the show wasn't what it once was.

Ellen Kilday, an election judge for DeKalb County’s 13th precinct, said she was hoping the voter turnout wouldn’t be very low, since she wants people to have their voices heard at the ballot box.

“You see your friends complain about our political climate,” Kilday said. “You can’t complain if you don’t vote. I’m doing what I can as an election judge.”

With all 65 precincts fully reported at 9:09 p.m. Tuesday, according to DeKalb County’s election result website, Joseph R. Biden won the Democratic Presidential primary election with 5,441 votes (51%), compared to Bernie Sanders, who got 4,692 votes (44%.) President Donald J. Trump won the Republican primary election in Illinois with 4,791 votes (95.4%) compared to his opponent Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente, who received 233 votes, (4.6%.).

The DeKalb County races all were uncontested.

Day Tripp, who was making sure voters successfully turned their ballots into the DS200 voting machine, which the county uses to tabulate votes, said he and other election judges expected a lower turnout because of COVID-19.

“Our estimates this morning were in the 200s,” Tripp said. “We expected lower because we thought people would be scared to come out and vote.”

At about 5:30 p.m., there were about 330 voters who turned in ballots at Hopkins Park Terrace Room, where DeKalb County residents in precinct six, 13, and 14 had to vote.

Tim Ball, an election judge for the 14th precinct, said he thought the voter turnout was a little better than expected and that there were some “spurts where it’s been busier [throughout the day.]”

“We’re doing pretty good, other than getting up early to work all day,” Ball said with a laugh.

Ball said the voters who came to vote were in good spirits and that it wasn’t any different from any other elections he’s worked.

He said one of the big questions voters had was about if they had to choose between a democratic ballot and a republican ballot. In Illinois, voters have to choose a partisan ballot in the primary.

“They’re looking for the option of having both parties on the same ballot,” Ball said.

He said he thinks that’s because DeKalb County voters want the choice to vote for both Democrat and Republican candidates.

Kilday, who also served as DeKalb County election judge in the 2016 Primary, said the area where she was setting up ballots for voters was cleaned often.

“Our pens are sanitized, our booths are sanitized, and our tables are sanitized every hour,” Kilday said. “[Since] it’s not busy, we can stay on top of it.”

Donna Benson, who was serving as an election judge for the sixth district, said staff was monitoring the room in a systematic way.

“[We’re] making sure the equipment and the area is maintained to meet the expectations of the voters, as well as the workers here,” Benson said.

She said that when voters leave the pens at the exit after they vote, the pens are brought back to the election judges tables and are then wiped down with Clorox wipes.

Although Kilday said only a few people who showed up wearing masks or gloves, she said it’s good for people to protect themselves, especially during the current climate, when there’s coronavirus.

“People should protect themselves,” Kilday said.