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Empty voting booths were a common sight Tuesday as voters in La Salle, Bureau and Marshall counties all failed to crack 25 percent turnout; and only Putnam County exceeded expectations with 46.7 percent turnout. Despite Republican challenges for governor and Bureau County sheriff, a limited number of Democratic contests held most counties within a tight range of 19 percent and 21 percent turnout.
NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
By the NewsTribune staff
When asked how many voters would come to the polls Tuesday, La Salle County clerk JoAnn Carretto set only a modest goal of 21 percent. Even that conservative estimate proved too ambitious.
A disappointed Carretto reported Wednesday that La Salle County’s overall turnout came to 19 percent, only a point higher than the decade-worst 18 percent reported in 2006.
“I honestly thought it would be a little higher than it was,” Carretto said. “I’d say I’m a little bit saddened.”
She’s not alone. Clerks in Bureau and Marshall counties also reported disappointing — though not necessarily unexpected — numbers at the polls. Only Putnam County exceeded expectation with turnout approaching 50 percent.
Carretto ran into technical issues that impeded a precinct-by-precinct breakdown showing who voted where. Nevertheless, a hand-counted total showed only one in five La Salle County voters went to the polls and Peru’s twin referendums only marginally helped the bottom line.
Peru voters were handed twin questions regarding the funding of a new municipal pool and a controversial remake of the city council. Carretto reported 32 percent turnout in Peru’s precincts, which was solid but insufficient to meet her stated goal.
The Democratic side of most ballots was thin, with few contested races, vindicating those clerks who bet on low to moderate turnout.
Bureau County clerk Kami Hieronymus had predicted turnout 20 percent and 25 percent for the Primary Election and she was right on. She anticipated moderate interest in the race for Republican nomination for sheriff (Allan Beaber emerged in a race still too close to call), but less interest in Spring Valley’s referendum on a sales tax increase, which failed.
Hieronymus reported voter turnout of 21 percent, a figure that could fluctuate slightly due to 35 absentee ballots that could arrive within the next two weeks. The ballots must be postmarked March 17 in order to count.
Overall, she said this year’s primary election ran smoothly without any problems.
Voter turnout was better than anticipated in Putnam County. Overall, turnout for the county was 46.68 percent, compared to the 44 percent predicted by clerk Dan Kuhn.
“The turnout was definitely more than I had anticipated,” Kuhn said. A contested sheriff race and clerk race led to the solid turnout, according to Kuhn.
Turnout wasn’t as good as expected in Marshall County where there were a lack of local contested races. Just under 21 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
Jill Piper, chief deputy at the Marshall County clerk and recorder’s office, said she expected a turnout of around 30 percent.
One factor that couldn’t be blamed for turnout was weather. Though preliminary forecasts called for overcast skies and a chance of rain, Tuesday was sunny with spring-like highs in the mid 50s.
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