DeKALB - Steve Nemeth has been an election judge since the 1980s, and describes Tuesday’s Election Day voter turnout for the General Consolidated Election as “one of the slowest” he’s seen.
“There’s such a contrast to last November [and the Presidential Election] when we were swamped,” he said. “General consolidated elections are always a tad slower.”
DeKalb Fourth Precinct Election Judge Toni Tollerud said that voter turnout was “quite low, but voters have been enthusiastic.”
“We had a very slow morning, but it picked up a little in the afternoon,” she said. “The leaders we vote for today have the most effect in the local community, so it’s important to get out there and vote.”
Polls were open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at voting locations throughout DeKalb County. Early voting began Feb. 25.
According to unofficial returns, 7,582 ballots had been cast in person, 1,385 people voted early in person and 360 vote by mail ballots had been returned by the time polls had closed, with all of the county’s precincts reporting unofficial totals.
A total of 496 vote by mail ballots were requested and sent out. There are still 136 outstanding vote by mail ballots, which isn’t enough to tip some of Tuesday’s unofficial race results.
With 63,936 registered voters and a total of 9,329 ballots cast, including two blank ballots, that put voter turnout at 14.59%.
More people voted this year than in the consolidated election of 2019, when voter turnout was 9%. In 2017, voter turnout was 23%, in 2015 voter turnout was 8%, in 2013 it was 22% and in 2011 it was 12%. In November’s Presidential Election, voter turnout climbed past 75%.
DeKalb County Clerk Doug Johnson said that voter turnout was better than he thought it would be.
“Voter turnout hit double digits, which is a good thing,” Johnson said. “Although polls were a little quiet and slow, everything ran very smoothly.”
Nemeth, who was an early voting election judge at the DeKalb Township Building, said that he was surprised at a higher number of early voters who voted in person before Election Day.
“One day, 81 people came in to vote early,” he said. “There are more people early voting than before. They don’t have to worry about weather or lines. The trade-off is that the in-person voting numbers are decreased on Election Tuesday.”
Leo Buis, a resident of DeKalb’s Fifth Ward, voted in person Tuesday afternoon at his polling location, Westminster Presbyterian Church.
“I live here and work for a school bus company, so the results directly impact me,” Buis said. “Even though I don’t have any kids, I care about what goes on here in our community.”
Buis said that the voting process was “very easy to do.” “It took five minutes, I was quickly in and out,” he said.
Gaelle Grace, a DeKalb Fifth Precinct election judge, said that voting is “important and has a huge impact on the community.”
“So much can be effected by this election, including our mayor and school board,” Grace said. “That’s why it’s so important to be well-informed about who is running, know where and how to vote and vote every election.”