Suburban Voter Turnout Down, Hot Races or Not Turnout: Voter Patterns Don't Change Overnight, Professor Says

By Boil, Kerry Lester Klester@Dailyherald. Com Just Months After A. Presidential Election That Brought Political Passions To A.; Turnout, Suburban et al. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), April 18, 2017 | Go to article overview

Suburban Voter Turnout Down, Hot Races or Not Turnout: Voter Patterns Don't Change Overnight, Professor Says


Boil, Kerry Lester Klester@Dailyherald. Com Just Months After A. Presidential Election That Brought Political Passions To A., Turnout, Suburban, School, Cook, Other Local Leaders Was Lower That It Was, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Races, Will Counties. Only, Uncontested, Which Draw Less Voter IntereSt. More Than Two Out Of Three Local Races Were, Years, More Than, A, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Kerry Lester klester@dailyherald.com Just months after a presidential election that brought political passions to a boil, suburban turnout in the April 4 local elections declined -- even in places with some of the hottest races. The percentage of registered voters who cast ballots in this month's election of municipal, school and other local leaders was lower that it was in the similar election four years ago in suburban Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Only in Kane County did turnout increase. County-level turnout can be brought down by the high number of uncontested races, which draw less voter interest. More than two out of three local races were uncontested, more than in previous years, a Daily Herald analysis found.

But turnout also dipped in some places with fiercely fought local contests, an examination of precinct-level results shows.

"While I do think many people were energized on both sides of the aisle by the presidential election, a lot of people still don't realize the importance of local politics, local races for office," said Sarah Brune, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. "These mayoral and city council races, these are the people that really make decisions that impact your life."

Turnout on April 4 was 17.4 percent in suburban Cook County, 16.7 percent in DuPage County, 15.7 percent in Kane County, 15.8 percent in Lake County, 15 percent in McHenry County and 17.9 percent in Will County.

Local election participation always is far below the turnout in national elections, and this year was no exception. Turnout in November ranged

from 66 percent to 74 percent in suburban counties.

While November's results energized some voters and enraged others, there's little indication that resulted in increased voter engagement at the local level, even on hot-button issues.

In the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 board of education race, six candidates ran for three seats after the school board agreed to allow a transgender student limited access to a girls locker room and set a policy allowing transgender students to use the bathrooms of the gender with which they identify.

Turnout in the nationally watched race rose to 12.8 percent this year as voters elected two incumbents and a former board member. That compares to 9.6 percent turnout in the 2013 school board race.

Some contentious races this year resulted in modest decreases in turnout rather than any increase.

In Wheeling, longtime Mayor Dean Argiris had been accused of improper personal use of a village credit card and vehicle, which he denied. He was ousted April 4 in an election that brought out 11.7 percent of registered voters, compared to 15.6 percent in the 2013 mayoral election. …

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