As Johnson County enters its last week before joining the nation in the 2012 general elections, local officials say they are prepared for the more than 75-percent of registered voters to cast their ballots come Nov. 6.
More than 850 Johnson County voters took to the polls by Tuesday, Oct. 30 and election officials said they expect a few more hundred to vote early before Election Day.
“I feel that the presidential election is responsible for larger turnouts, but I also believe that the contests between [State] Sen. Gary Forby and Mark Minor along with our local county races for states’ attorney and circuit clerk are encouraging voters to get to the polls,” said Johnson County clerk/recorder and election authority Robin Harper-Whitehead.
Harper-Whitehead said persons still needing to register have until Saturday, Nov. 3 to do so in which her office in Vienna will be open until noon to accommodate them. “We will also take appointments for people who cannot make it before noon,” added Harper-Whitehead.
Early voting officially ends Nov. 3, yet those still wishing to cast their ballot before Nov. 6 may do so at the election office until 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5. With a week to go before the general elections, officials gathered Tuesday morning to conduct a public test of the voting machines, which is mandated by the state board of elections.
“Five of the 17 precincts had to be tested; we tested Ozark, Lake Two, Simpson, Cache and Tunnel Hill,” said Harper-Whitehead, who invited Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford to witness the public test as he was in Vienna to promote Illinois’ I-Cash program. “We have made up ballots that will do under votes, over votes and regular votes for each candidate.”
The election officials conducted pretest before the public test and said they will match the results and once the election is over they will conduct another test to match the results with pre-election results to indicate correct tabulation of ballots casted.
Illinois will have four candidates on the ballot for president in this year’s general election; Barack Obama on the Democrat ticket; Mitt Romney on the Republican ticket; Gary Johnson on the Libertarian ticket; and Jill Stein on the Green Party ticket.
In the race for the newly redistricted Fifteenth Congressional District, Angela Michaels (D) faces John M. Shimkus (R).
In the race for State Senator Fifty-Ninth Legislative District, Gary F. Forby (D) faces Mark Minor (R).
In the race for State Representative in the General Assembly 118th Representative District, Brandon W. Phelps (D) is running unopposed.
Closer to home, in the race for Johnson County circuit clerk, Jennifer Pritchett (D) faces Ryan M. O’Neal (R) while David G. Rockwell (R) runs unopposed for coroner and for state’s attorney Tricia Turner Shelton (D) is running against Tambra K. Cain (Sharp) (R). Ernie Henshaw (R) is running unopposed for county commissioner.
There is only one judicial contest along with four offices seeking retention. Judy Cates (D) is running against Stephen McGlynn (R) for the Appellate Court’s 5th Judicial District, filling the vacancy of the Hon. James K. Donovan. Judges seeking retention are: Melissa Ann Chapman for the Appellate Court in the 5th Judicial District; Mark H. Clarke for the circuit court in the 1st Judicial Circuit; Mark M. Boie for the circuit court in the 1st Judicial Circuit; and Brad K. Bleyer for the circuit court in the 1st Judicial Circuit.
Also on the ballot this year is a vote to amend the Illinois State Constitution, which if no vote is cast then the decision will be left for state legislatures to vote on. A “Yes” or “No” vote is on the ballot for a proposal to amend the constitution requiring a three-fifths, or super majority, vote to increase a benefit under any public pension or retirement system.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White also announced that all offices and facilities will be closed on Election Day and will reopen for regular business hours the following day.