Few Voters Turning Out - NBC Chicago

Few Voters Turning Out

History predicts 25-percent turnout



    Few Voters Turning Out
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    AUSTIN, TX - FEBRUARY 19: A pollster loads paper in a primary registration machine at the Travis County Courthouse February 19, 2008 in Austin, Texas. Early voting begins today across Texas ahead of the presidential primaries taking place on Tuesday, March 4, 2008. (Photo by Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

    Illinois is hosting the nation’s first primary of 2010 Tuesday. The early voting day hasn't encouraged throngs of voters to flood the polls.

    In fact, its quite the opposite. No one is coming out.

    Polling places have been open for more than four hours, but some centers have seen just a handful of voters, said Jim Allen, communications director for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners according to the Chicago Tribune.

    Despite the national implications of the primaries taking place today, critics are blaming the early voting date -- which was put in place in 2008 to help hometown guy Barack Obama -- for the low turn out.

    "I don't like it," said Cook County Clerk David Orr of the moved-up primary date to the Daily Herald. "I think that is a big disincentive. It makes it very hard for the voters. It makes it hard for the media and above all it is incumbent protection. There is actually no reason not to make it later."

    Orr said suburban voter turnout is just as slow as the city's pace. Some of it could be blamed on the light snowfall, but some say it's apathy.

    Up for grabs in today’s primary election is a bid for a senate seat, a governor’s office, a county board president job, lt. governor, myriad congressional seats, state treasurers and more.

    The nominees who emerge from the nation's first primary will fight for the chance to run a state so deep in debt that it can't pay bills on time and must consider painful service cuts, higher taxes or both.

    But Illinois voters have a habit of staying home for local, even statewide primaries.

    In 2008 just 41 percent of eligible voters showed up for the primary or cast early ballots. That election included Barack Obama on the ballot, and he had sort of a following in Chicago.

    "They were very interested two years ago," Bill Weaver, a veteran precinct captain in Shaumburg says of the presidential election, "but so far it has seemed light."

    The previous election saw just 25 percent of eligible voters turn out.

    Observationally, today doesn’t look like it’ll be much different.

    On Tuesday, Feb. 2, NBCChicago will provide live AP election results, plus livestreaming coverage from the candidates' election HQs. Bookmark our results page and check back Tuesday for breaking news.