You can't always get what you want -- and in this case, it's good voter turnout, even for a special election. Many of the counties in the 18th Congressional District primary had turnout hovering around 10 to 12 percent. Marshall County had 14 percent turnout. However, in Sangamon County, Clerk Don Gray says, it was bad...really bad. “We turned out with an 8.33% total turnout,” says Gray. “The only historical reference that we’ve got to a low turnout was in 1997, when we had 13% turnout. It was a non-partisan election.." Gray says weather, the just-passed fourth of July holiday, and the fact the election was held in Summer all were to blame. He says he doesn't know what to expect for the September special election, but doubts it will be much better.
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But, there was a saving grace. County Clerks had to work quickly to implement a same-day voter registration law that they thought they wouldn't have to deal with until next year's Presidential primary. Gray says his procedure worked, even if it didn't have to be used much. “It was really efficient, and we believe it to be a good resource. Now, we just hope that more folks will use it in the future,” says Gray. “We registered on Election Day 21 individuals that had the necessary I.D. requirements, went through the process.We were able to service them in less then five to seven minutes, and they were off to receive their ballot.”
Gray says there were some thinks to tweak ahead of the September special election and the next primary. He says for this election, the bigger problem was having to tell voters whether they actually lived in the 18th District.