Summer primary doesn’t change much for Knox County election officials
DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - As officials across Illinois wind down from Tuesday’s primary they’re taking a look at how the shift to a June election changed turnout.
The last time there was a midterm primary election in 2018, voters took to the polls in March, not June. According to preliminary results from the Knox County primary, officials only saw a 3% rise in turnout.
This year, 22.5% of registered voters in Knox County cased a ballot, up from 19.4% from the March 2018 primary.
County Clerk Scott Erickson said those numbers aren’t out of the ordinary.
“It was probably a net neutral push,” Erickson said. “Change in primary dates … it just kind of pushes those numbers around, those voters are gonna come, you’re gonna get a little bit of a bump here or there.”
What did change, however, was available to be an election judge.
“It throws a whole monkey wrench into our judging schedule,” Erickson said. “A lot of times in the winter, the primaries, we’re still catching the end of our snowbirds. They’re still in Florida or someplace warm, and haven’t come back yet. Well, now it’s warm here, and we’ve got a lot of the other ones who have gotten out on vacation.”
Primaries typically have lower turnout than a November election, especially in a midterm. Erikson said since Illinois makes voters choose which party’s primary they want to participate in, people would rather sit out.
“There’s just a lot of voters that are not pigeonholing themselves or attaching themselves to one particular party or the other,” Erickson said. “There are a lot of, ‘I’m voting for the best person or I voted for the one that kind of relates to me the best.’”
In Knox County, the ideal primary turnout would be 30%. Erickson said any turnout is good for democracy.
“We’re glad they’re voting,” Erickson said. “We just hope that they’ll eventually say, ‘Hey, maybe I’ll jump into a primary here or consolidate election there.’ In the end, we do want to have more participants in that electoral process.”
Back in the Quad Cities metro, Rock Island County saw a slight uptick in voter turnout. This year 19.8%t percent of registered voters cast a ballot compared to 17.2% in 2018.
To become an election judge in Illinois, reach out directly to your county clerk’s office.
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