At least one local election official predicts voter turnout for the presidential election could hit a record 90 percent. Bloomington Election Commission Director Paul Shannon expects 8,000 city residents will vote early, almost twice that of the last election.
Shannon thinks voter anger could drive people to the polls. “There is a lot of animosity on both sides this time and so I would expect a large turnout,” he said. “With what I am seeing with early voting and the amount of stories for both candidates coming out, I’m thinking it’ll be close to 90 [percent] but definitely between 80 and 90,” he added.
There are also more early voting options and then there’s a same-day registration law in Illinois. Shannon thinks that will also have an impact. “This time is the first time they’ll be able to register and vote on a presidential election which I think is going to increase our turnout.” There was an 80 percent turnout in the last presidential election in the city of Bloomington.
McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael says early voting began Monday at three Illinois State University locations: Watterson Towers, The Bone Student Center and Milner Library. Each of those locations averaged about 100 students per day early in the week. “And if that number starts increasing and we’re getting lines, we’re gonna see 80 to 85 percent turnout so it’s exciting,” she said while noting she has made a side bet about it.
ISU Political Science Professor Emeritus Bob Bradley earlier this month predicted this election could have record low turnout because Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are disliked by so many. Michael believes turnout will be average to high and she has challenged Bradley to a side bet after a McLean County League of Women Voters-sponsored panel discussion. “We’ll see whose right,” she added as she prepared to check the latest early voting totals.
Both Michael and Shannon are updating their Facebook pages regularly with early voting numbers. Michael also shares anecdotes from election judges. She reported one voter at Watterson Towers was turned away because he already voted. He told election judges he was just testing the system.