Metro-East News

Vote early, or you might be waiting in a long line Nov. 8

Voters at the St. Clair County Courthouse in Belleville on Tuesday use touch screens to vote early in the Nov. 8 General Election. More than 3,000 people have voted early in St. Clair County so far.
Voters at the St. Clair County Courthouse in Belleville on Tuesday use touch screens to vote early in the Nov. 8 General Election. More than 3,000 people have voted early in St. Clair County so far.

Early voting at county clerks’ offices opened this week, and county clerks are seeing steady streams of people casting their ballots before the Nov. 8 election.

More than 3,000 people in St. Clair County cast ballots by Tuesday, County Clerk Tom Holbrook said.

St. Clair County also had complaints about voting machines, but Holbrook said tests showed the machines were fine and user error was most likely to blame.

Madison County Clerk Debbie Ming Mendoza said people voted “by the hundreds within the first 30 minutes of opening.”

Ming-Mendoza said she is hoping for 15,000 to 16,000 early votes before Nov. 8.

“If we move the way we’re moving, we’ll surpass that,” Ming-Mendoza said.

Holbrook encouraged people to vote early because he expected turnout to be heavy on Election Day.

“There are going to be lines on Election Day,” Holbrook said. “Vote at your convenience when you could take your time and look at it.”

Holbrook said people no longer need a reason to vote by mail.

At the O’Fallon early voting location, the longest wait was 20 minutes. Forty people all showed up at the same time and the first few votes needed assistance, Holbrook said.

For most early voters you could be in and out in five minutes, Holbrook said.

With a large turnout expected, Ming-Mendoza printed a ballot for every registered voter in the county, plus an additional 10 percent for people who register to vote during grace period registration.

“There will be no ballot shortage in Madison County,” Ming-Mendoza said.

During the March primary there were some precincts that ran out of ballots.

“There’s a lot of interest in our county, county board races, two county-wide offices,” Ming-Mendoza said. “There’s a lot of interest moving voters to the polls, in addition to the presidential election.”

Ming-Mendoza also encouraged voters to vote early.

“You don’t have to worry about standing in line in your precinct,” Ming Mendoza said. “If you show up to early vote, and there’s a long line, you’ve got 12 more days to vote.”

In St. Clair County there were complaints from people who had trouble voting for Republican candidates during early voting.

They reported that while using touch screens they tried to hit a Republican candidate, but it registered as a Democrat.

Holbrook said a handful of people reported the issue to election judges and county staff. The voters then were allowed to use a different machine to vote.

Two machines with issues were shut down and tested on Tuesday with a State Board of Elections employee present, along with representatives from the St. Clair County Republican and Green parties, as well as media members.

“This office has been nothing but transparent in the election process,” said Douglas Jameson, the chairman of the St. Clair County Republican Central Committee. “I’ve been here multiple times and viewed every public test that was available. They’ve gone above and beyond in keeping us informed.”

One machine was pulled when a voter complained his vote wasn’t being registered. Holbrook said the voter tried to tap the screen in the box next to the name of the person for whom he was voting but kept tapping the title of the office.

One of the questioned touch screen voting machines froze after a voter repeatedly tapped the screen while trying to vote.

Both machines worked correctly during Tuesday’s test, which also included testing optical scan machines and other touch screen voting machines.

“It could have been it needed to sit and be turned off for a while,” said Laura Kaemmerer, St. Clair County election supervisor.

During a test of the machine, Kaemmerer also hit the box for the candidate listed underneath the Democratic candidate, which is the first candidate listed in each race. In each race, the voting machine recorded the correct candidate.

Kaemmerer said she personally wouldn’t use the machines if she didn’t trust them.

Holbrook said after receiving complaints, his office checked the machines but did not find any issues. He blamed user error.

“We took the machine out of use …We check it and the calibration is fine,” Holbrook said.

Early voting locations

Monroe County Clerk’s Office, 100 S. Main St., Waterloo

  • Mondays through Friday, through Nov. 7: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 from 9 a.m. to noon.

St. Clair County

In St. Clair County, there are three permanent early voting locations:

  • The second floor of the county courthouse at 10 Public Square in Belleville
  • The Caseyville Township office, 10001 Bunkum Road in Fairview Heights
  • The O’Fallon Township office, 801 E. State St.

Voting hours at these locations are scheduled for:

  • Through Oct. 28: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 29: 9 a.m. to noon
  • Oct. 30: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 4: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 5: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Nov. 6: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 7: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

St. Clair County also plans to have temporary early voting locations:

  • High Mount School, 1721 Boul Ave., Swansea, Oct. 29 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Centreville Township building, 4831 Bond Ave., Alorton, Oct. 29 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Whiteside Middle School, 111 Warrior Way, Belleville, Oct. 29 and 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • B.A.S.S.C., 2411 Pathways Crossing, off of Green Mount Road, Belleville, Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • VFW Post 1699, 621 Water St., Cahokia, Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In Madison County there are several early voting locations:

  • Edwardsville: Madison County Administration Building, 157 Main Street, 1st Floor, Edwardsville
  • Alton: Law Enforcement Center, 1700 Broadway.
  • Granite City: Township Building, 2060A Delmar Ave.

Hours for the Edwardsville, Alton and Granite City sites are:

  • Through Oct. 28: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 29: 9 a.m. to Noon
  • Oct. 30: 10 a.m to 4 p.m.
  • Oct. 31 through Nov. 4: 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 5: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Nov. 6: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Nov. 7: 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Early voting also is planned at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, in the Willow Room of the Morris University Center.

  • Through Nov. 1: Noon to 5 p.m.
  • Nov. 2 - Nov. 4: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Early voting also is planned a several days at:

  • Bethalto: Bethalto Village Hall, 213 N. Prairie St.
  • Collinsville: Collinsville Senior Citizen Center, 420 E. Main St.
  • Godfrey: Lewis & Clark College, Ahlemeyer Atrium, Trimpe Advanced Technology Center
  • Highland: Latzer Memorial Public Library, 1001 Ninth St.
  • Madison: Madison Fire Station, 1800 Third St.
  • Troy: Troy City Hall 116 E. Market St.
  • Wood River: Wood River Township Office, 33 S. Ninth St., East Alton.

Hours at those locations are:

  • Through Nov. 4: Noon to 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 29 and Nov. 5: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.