Illinois Primary Turnout Incredibly Low

Lowest in recent memory, say election officials

By Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010  |  Updated 9:59 PM CDT
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Be it bad weather, voter fatigue or lack of interest, election officials are bracing for some of the lowest voter turnout in recent memory.

The City of Chicago was reporting a 21% turnout as of 8 p.m., an hour after polls closed.

Earlier today, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners Chairman Langdon Neal estimated 30 to 35 percent voter turnout.

"Anything under 40 percent," he says, "is considered low."

In suburban Cook County the estimates are even worse. Clerk David Orr's office says as many as four out of five voters may stay home. Orr blames long election cycles and high spending on negative campaign ads for keeping voters away from the polls.

For voters who turned out today, the process was quick and smooth. There were only minor problems reported with voting machines.

In Chicago there were isolated reports of electioneering or campaigning too close to the polls.

In the suburbs, one election judge had to be removed from his polling place. It happened around 2:45 this afternoon.

County Clerk's employees were at the Columbus Manor School in Worth when they witnessed a Republican election judge launch into a tirade insulting the President with racial slurs. 51-year-old Michael Tortorello was removed from the polling place by Sheriff's police. Witnesses say he tried to mark a number of ballots before he left, but was stopped by others in the polling place.

A spokesperson for the Clerk's office says Tortorello had worked as an election judge three times before.

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