Sauk Valley counties see varied voter turnout

Phil Masini casts his vote Tuesday, March 19, 2024 in Rock Falls.

DIXON – Voter turnout in the Sauk Valley area varied when it came to Tuesday’s primary election, with about 20,000 ballots cast across Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties combined.

“It’s just slightly higher than a normal primary [election],” Lee County Clerk and Recorder Nancy Petersen said of the county’s 22.7% voter turnout.

It’s a good number but much lower than during general elections, she said.

Of the 90,528 registered voters in the three-county region, 19,449 ballots were cast, according to the counties’ reporting websites.

Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties all use Liberty Systems LLC to report election results.

Lee County has 21,396 registered voters, and 4,857 ballots were cast. The percentage of voters is down from 25.53% for the 2022 primary election.

The majority of Lee County ballots – 3,427 – were filled out at polling places. Another 692 were cast early, and 738 people voted by mail.

Counting the ballots went extremely well, Petersen said. They finished counting about 10 p.m. Tuesday, she said.

Of Whiteside County’s 36,804 registered voters, only 5,385 – or 14.6% – voted in Tuesday’s primary. That’s down from the 17.92% of registered voters who took part in the 2022 primary.

Only 356 people voted early in Whiteside County, while 3,989 cast ballots at polling places and 1,040 voted by mail.

“It was higher than I expected,” Whiteside County Clerk Dana Nelson said of the turnout.

Still, the low turnout percentage – which she was surprised to see reach double digits – is disappointing, Nelson said.

“But to be fair, the presidential race had pretty much already been called before the election, and there were only two races on the Republican ballot and no races on the Democratic ballot,” she said.

Ogle County had the highest turnout, with 9,207 – or 28.5% – of the 32,328 registered voters casting ballots, up from a 25.5% voter turnout in the 2022 primary election.

A total of 7,407 ballots were submitted at polling places, 869 people voted early and 931 voted by mail.

Ogle County Clerk Laura Cook was out of the office Wednesday and unavailable for comment.

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner

Alexa Zoellner reports on Lee, Ogle and Whiteside counties for Shaw Media out of the Dixon office. Previously, she worked for the Record-Eagle in Traverse City, Michigan, and the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.