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Voter turnout  stunningly low for consolidated election

Staff Writer
Posted on 4/6/2017, 5:00 AM

SALINE COUNTY -- Turnout for consolidated elections traditionally is low, but Tuesday's election saw only about 1 in 5 registered voters at the polls, Saline County Clerk Kim Buchanan said.

Actual turnout was 21.35 percent of registered voters in the county, she said.

Local Democratic and Republican leaders say they are a little disappointed, but not necessarily surprised.

Bob Oglesby, Saline County Democratic Party chairman, said he thinks multiple factors play a role.

"I talked to quite a few people both before and after the election, and people right now are tired of politics," Oglesby said.

While the November presidential election saw record voter turnout in many parts of the country, some people told Oglesby they simply became fatigued from hearing campaign rhetoric -- which translated to apathy Tuesday.

Some voters are directly affected by Illinois' lengthy budget impasse, and Oglesby said he thinks those voters are more likely to take action in any election.

"If they're not affected by the impasse, though, they may not care about the township elections," he said.

The fact that the elections are for local township governments may not be as exciting to a potential voter, he said.

"I think they didn't generate enough interest locally to get a large turnout," Oglesby said.

Bob Holmes, Saline County Republican Party chairman, said people who don't participate in township elections may not understand what is at stake.

"There is always a low turnout, but it amazes me that more people don't participate -- when our township form of government actually controls a lot of different taxes," Holmes said.

Individuals will have the chance in a year to vote, and Buchanan said she hopes potential voters take advantage.

"Hopefully in the primaries, they'll come out and exercise their right to vote come March of 2018," she said.