1 in 5 may vote early in Champaign County
URBANA — As many as 20 percent of Champaign County voters could cast their ballots before Election Day, according to figures from the Champaign County clerk's office.
As of Monday morning, nearly 10,000 voters had either voted early, voted in-person absentee or submitted absentee ballots by mail, said County Clerk Gordy Hulten.
On Saturday alone, during generally limited hours, 938 people cast ballots at one of the eight early voting sites around the county.
And on Sunday, where only the county clerk's office in Urbana was open, 362 people voted during a seven-hour period. That was slightly more than the daily average of 347 voters during the previous six days, when the office was open for 81/2 hours.
In the 2008 presidential election, nearly 85,000 people cast ballots in Champaign County. Assuming a similar turnout this year, a combined absentee/early voting total of 17,000 would equal 20 percent.
Reaching that level, Hulten said Monday, is "very realistic."
Four full days of early voting remain, plus a three-hour window at each of the eight early voting sites on Saturday. All but two of the early voting sites — the Illini Union and the Tolono Public Library — will be open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, the last day of early voting. The other two locations will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In the first five days of early voting last week, an average of 908 people a day voted at the eight early voting sites.
But on Saturday, when seven of the eight sites were open only three hours, a total of 938 people voted. The busiest site Saturday was the county clerk's office at the Brookens Administrative Center, which was open for seven hours and handled 350 early voters. But the Meadowbrook Community Church in southwest Champaign was open only three hours on Saturday and had 220 early voters.
Hulten said the heavy turnout Saturday may indicate a need for extended Saturday hours in future elections.
"Saturday morning was pretty heavy at most locations, considering we were only open until noon at most of them," he said. "We had some backup Saturday morning at Meadowbrook and Tolono but sent staff out as soon as we got the call so we could process voters more quickly."
As of Monday morning, about 6,135 people in Champaign County had voted early, with the highest numbers at Brookens (2,545) and Meadowbrook Church (1,432). The other sites reported significantly fewer voters, including Grace Church in Mahomet (550), the Spalding Recreation Center in north Champaign (412), the Rantoul Recreation Center (354), the Illini Union (293), the Tolono Public Library (277) and the St. Joseph Village Annex (272).
In Danville, about 1,400 people had either voted early or voted absentee through Saturday, according to the Danville Election Commission. There are about 18,000 registered voters in Danville.
In Vermilion County, as of mid-afternoon Monday, 1,240 people had either voted absentee or voted early, according to the county clerk's office. That's about 4 percent of the 30,362 registered voters in the county.