Politics & Government

Officials expect another voting rush after 5 p.m.

3:15 Tuesday

The ballot tabulator at Doleres Moye Elementary School in O’Fallon “was just balking at us” in the opening minutes of Election Day, said election official Bob Forhetz, but the county offiicals had it fixed by 6:20 a.m.

At mid-afternoon Tuesday, a handful of voters were trickling in and out of Precinct 15. Forhetz expected another crush of voters after 5 p.m. He said voters first thing in the morning had a delay of about 25 minutes, with some of the wait being for those who walked in to register. He said less than a dozen voters registered on-site.

Forhetz estimated the precinct would see about a 45 percent voter turnout.

2 p.m. Tuesday

Four voters will have ballots tabulated after polling place closes at 7 p.m. at Harmony-Emge School in Belleville. The tabulator has been a bit “touchy” on some ballots, election official says, but it is still counting them.

Election official Sandy Fortner said there was a line at 6 a.m., and by 9 a.m. the polling station had “more voters than the whole last election.”

A county official had checked the machine, Fortner said, and the tabulator was working. Officials had duct tape on the machine to help keep the prongs in place, and voters did have the option to have the ballot tabulated later if there was a problem with that ballot, she said.

Noon Tuesday

Flo Mathews and Kimberly Stringer have worked as election officials in East St. Louis for more than 20 years, and expect the voters to start pouring in around 5 p.m. At about noon on Tuesday, voting at Wyvetter Younge Elementary School in East St. Louis had been steady, they said.

“The rain isn’t having any effect on the voters,” Mathews said.

Stringer said the voter turnout — about 146 of the 777 registered in the two precincts had voted by about noon.

Larmarkus Van, 30, was outside the back of the school with a bullhorn, standing well outside the 100-foot electioneering mark, encouraging any voters walking in.

“See a whole lot of young people coming out here. We’re gonna get rid of all these old people that don’t like change,” he said.

11 a.m. Tuesday

The tabulating machine at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Belleville periodically needs a good shake, but election officials say it is working and they are prepared if it does stop accepting ballots.

Official Jeanne Bittle said they will hold any ballots until after the precincts close that are not able to be tabulated, but as of about 10:45 a.m. that had not been necessary.

“We just keep trying them, and re-inserting” the ballots, she said.

The line for the tabulator was no more than a dozen people long at mid-morning.

This election brought out Rachel Ghirarda, 33, with her son James, 2. “It’s my first time voting in a really long time,” Ghirarda said.

The tabulator “spit mine out a few times,” but did accept her ballot.

Seven-year-old Katie Nihells compelled her grandmother Cynthia Schmitt to vote. She’s 58, and this is her first-ever voting experience even though she’s long been registered.

“She asked me to make sure I voted, and I felt good about it,” Schmitt said.

Katie was very adamant about four of the races and issues and told Schmitt how to vote in those, Schmitt said.

“Before, I thought (voting) would be really hard — it’s real easy,” she said.

“I hope I made a difference.”

Voters between 10 and 11 a.m. reported taking just a few minutes to vote at Abraham Lincoln. The three precincts at the school have more than 3,500 registered voters, and at about 10:15 a.m. had seen nearly 600 voters cast their ballots.

There were a few other sites reporting problems with the ballot counters, including Union School in Belleville and the O’Fallon Public Library, but a St. Clair County clerk’s spokesman said trouble shooters were instructing election judges how to handle it.

8 a.m. Tuesday

Voters provided “a steady flow” at one Madison County polling place early Tuesday morning, and other precincts also reported steady but not overwhelming numbers between 7-8 a.m.

“When the door opened at 6, they were lined up the stairs and out the door,” said Brenda Kamm, an election official for Jarvis Township Precinct 6 at the Tri-Township Library in Troy. By 8 a.m., voters were coming in and going directly to sign in.

Two election monitors from the Illinois attorney general’s office were on hand at Tri-Township Library this morning.

Kamm reported 73 of the precinct’s 1,150 voters had been through as of about 8 a.m. She said one voter registered on-site, while many more had chosen early voting.

This is “busier than the last presidential election,” she said. Kamm has been an election official for 12 years.

Voter Danielle Unzicker, 30, said she was in and out of voting with no wait.

“They run this place so smooth; I can’t remember a time I didn’t just walk right in,” she said.

At Copper Creek Christian Church in Maryville, election official Maryann Allred estimated that about a quarter of the voters in Collinsville Precinct 26 had taken advantage of early voting. She said 56 of the precinct’s 420 voters had come through by 7:45 a.m.