Many who voted were hesitant to discuss their decision or reasons for coming out or even identify themselves. While official numbers on turnout were not available, voting seemed sporatic through the afternoon.
“It’s quite normal for a low turnout during the primaries,” said Deb Lithdrop, a polling official. “People do not like to be forced to declare a party. I’ve had many people come in and express their wish to get rid of the parties and just vote for a candidate. It keeps a lot of folks from coming out, but you have to get out and vote if you want things to change.”
Those willing to share their reasons for voting expressed distrust of politicians, frustration over the limitations of two parties, and outrage over the recent reversal of Roe vs. Wade.
“People just don’t trust the government and their officials anymore,” 21-year-old Andrew Gonzales said. “After what happened with women’s rights and Roe vs. Wade, I just don’t have faith in the system anymore. There will be women finding themselves forced to seek back-alley abortions, and they’re going to die. It’s not right.”
Women across the Sauk Valley and the country have been demonstrating their outrage and fears over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
“I picked the Democratic ballot because of where they stand on women’s reproductive rights and gun legislation. I’m worried about individual freedoms,” one voter said.
“Our rights to what we can do with our bodies have been stripped away from us like they were nothing. Like we are nothing. I don’t understand why women are still fighting to be considered equals in this country,” another woman said.
“I think it’s an abomination to women’s rights. You don’t have to be for abortion, but you should be for women having a right over their bodies. I don’t understand why I have to fight for this,” yet another voter said.
Those who voted Republican indicated that contested races and a fuller ballot were part of the draw.
“We voted on the Republican primary side because they have more impactful decisions coming up,” said one two voters who were paired up. “We are primarily Independent because what the candidate supports matters most to us, but you have to make do with the forced option to choose between Democrat and Republican. It’s not what we want, so we have to pick from the best of what’s available, and most of the time, none of it is what we want.”
Another reason for the low turnout could be attributed to the change in the election date. The Illinois primaries are usually held in mid-March, but were moved to June 28 by the 2021 General Assembly because of a delay in the 2020 Census data crucial to once-in-a-decade redistricting.
“Many people plan summer vacations during this time. Normally they would have already voted,” one polling official said.
The day started slow, with only 100 votes between the 9th, 14th, and 18th districts by noon. The day saw a slight pick-up; by 6 p.m., it had reached 245 votes between the three. But this only equates to roughly 10% of those districts’ combined 2,544 voters.