September 21, 2023


La Salle County records low election turnout

Republican turnout higher than Democratic

Election voter turnout was 19% in the gubernatorial primary election, about 3% to 4% lower than La Salle County Clerk Lori Bongartz predicted.

Bongartz said she knew it was going to be low but initially predicted 22% to 23% of registered voters would come out to the polls.

Early on in the election there was a problem in Eden precinct 1 that kept people from casting their vote. One judge was present and two are needed to allow people to vote, one from each political party. Bongartz said another judge was placed and there were no other issues for the rest of the day.

Despite low turnout and a slight issue in the one precinct, Bongartz said everything went well.

La Salle resident John Fesco, interviewed at the precinct at La Salle VFW, said he votes because each election is important. “I vote in every election,” Fesco said.

Ottawa resident Teresa Taylor came out to the polls at the Knights River’s Edge Event Center in Ottawa because it is her civic duty.

“I have three boys and we talk about responsibility,” Taylor said. “I feel like this is one was to take that responsibility.”

Libbie Vandervort of Ottawa added: “I’m coming out to vote because we women have to get out more and start making a change.”

“There are a couple people I want to vote for and make sure they get in,” Ottawa resident Bob Hoffman said.

Mary Pawlak, an election judge at Utica precinct 1, said she expected better turnout among Republicans than Democrats and that played out. Republicans emerged to elect a nominee to challenge Gov. JB Pritzker this fall; but most Democratic races are uncontested. Nearly 68% of ballots cast were Republican and 31% were Democratic.

La Salle County voters chose Republican state Sen. Darren Bailey as the Republican nominee to run against Gov. JB Pritzker. Pritzker took 88% of votes on the Democratic ballot and Bailey 66% on the Republican side countywide. Bailey earned the state’s nomination.