Early Voter Activity Sends Mixed Message

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Allen Daily Herald Staff Writer

Voters in Lake, Kane and McHenry counties along with Chicago appear to be suffering from voter burnout, but preliminary absentee balloting in DuPage County and suburban Cook is on the rise.

Thursday is the deadline for registered voters to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to them. The ballots are for the March 17 primary, which will nominate party candidates for U.S. senator, Congress, governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, treasurer, comptroller, state senators and state representatives. County offices also are on the ballot as are some referendums.

In Kane County, the clerk's office had tallied 598 applications for absentee ballots as of Thursday, compared to 1,216 for the entire 1994 campaign.

Kane County Chief Deputy Clerk Bernardine Murphy said there could be more activity in the village, cities and township offices, which also handle absentee ballots, but it appeared that participation would not catch the 1994 level.

In Lake County, election department spokeswoman Daphne Deadrick said there were about 2,800 ballots mailed out by Thursday, compared to 5,000 for the same point in the 1994 campaign.

"It's unlikely we are going to hit that mark," Deadrick said. "Interestingly, we're hearing from clerks that when they ask voters which ballot they want - Republican, Democrat, Reform or non-partisan - a lot of people are saying, 'I'm not sure, send me all three (partisan ballots).' That's new."

In McHenry County, the preliminary numbers were mixed.

McHenry County Clerk Kathie Schultz said there were 801 absentee ballots mailed out by Thursday, compared to 663 by this point in the 1994 schedule. …