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La Salle County Clerk JoAnn Carretto (center) goes over the ballot testing process with Brian Crouch, a candidate for Streator's City Council, while Lori Bongart (left) and colleagues run the ballot tests during the public demonstration in the basement of the La Salle County Governmental complex.
NewsTribune photo/Amanda Whitlock
Here’s where you can vote early
It’s not too late to register to vote or to vote early. Area county clerk’s offices will hold Saturday hours for grace-period registration and for early voting. La Salle County: 8 a.m.-noon. at the clerk’s office in Ottawa. Bureau County: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at the clerk’s office in Princeton. (The off-site voting location in Spring Valley will not be open Saturday.) Additionally, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Monday. Putnam County: 9 a.m.-noon at the clerk’s office in Hennepin. Marshall County: 8:30 a.m.-noon at the clerk’s office in Lacon.
JoAnn Carretto is betting that voting next Tuesday will be brisk in Peru, where there’s a four-way race for mayor and contested township seats; but as for the rest of La Salle County… Carretto, the La Salle County clerk, said she anticipates countywide turnout of no more than 22 percent. Joe Voter typically sits out any spring election that follows a presidential race, due to what Carretto termed “voter fatigue.” She expects the April 9 elections to be no different. “I think we’ll be pretty much right on the mark,” she said, anticipating turnout would fall within a tight range of 18 percent to 22 percent. “Turnout usually falls within that span.” Judging from past spring races, Carretto is probably right. La Salle County posted a woeful (but not unexpected) 21.3 percent turnout in spring 2011, though turnout from the last round of mayoral races slightly exceeded expectations. Mayoral races of 2009 in Peru and Utica helped push turnout to 27.4 percent, though that figure is less than half what a presidential race might draw. Peru and Utica could again help lift voter turnout. Each community has contested races, including mayor, and Utica’s turnout typically ranks among the highest in La Salle County. Outside of those pockets, however, there isn’t much expected to draw voters to the polls. Carretto said she doesn’t expect a rural electrical aggregation referendum to draw much interest, though the 1-cent sales tax referendum to fund schools could elevate participation. Bureau County clerk Kami Hieronymus is expecting a similar situation: Tepid interest overall, elevated by electrifying turnout in at least one pocket. Hieronymus said she predicts overall turnout of about 30 percent. She projected voter participation would come close to the 31 percent who voted in the 2011 spring election. “The interest level isn’t there,” she said. Hieronymus said voters see no contest at the local level and they find themselves not as informed about the issues as in presidential elections. Compared to the level of exposure through television and radio during national elections, she said voters don’t hear as much about the candidates and won’t rush to the polls. Except in Spring Valley, that is. Hieronymus said she believes voter turnout in Spring Valley and Hall Township will be higher than in the rest of the county, with anywhere from 50 percent to 60 percent turnout. Spring Valley’s mayoral and aldermanic contests, as well as the Hall High School proposition, will bring out voters. “That brings out more people because of more interest,” she added. In Marshall County, clerk Melody Weber is hoping for a fairly decent turnout from the 8,493 registered voters, despite there not being a presidential race. “I’m going to predict between 35 to 40 percent,” Weber said. Henry has some contested races which seem to be drawing interest from residents, according to Weber. “There’re a lot of public questions on the ballot,” she said. Putnam County clerk Dan Kuhn said he predicts this election will draw in fewer voters than usual. “I think I’m going to go with 36 percent,” he said. With only one mayoral race in the county and no race for the school board, Kuhn said voters might not feel compelled to visit the polls.