URBANA — At least 20 percent of the anticipated voter turnout in Champaign County already had voted by the conclusion of the early voting period Saturday afternoon.
A total of 18,610 people had either voted by absentee ballot or by early voting, County Clerk Gordy Hulten said Saturday.
If total general election turnout is the same this fall as in 2008 — 84,804 voters — that would mean that at least 22 percent of voters turned in ballots before the actual Election Day.
"I think it will be over 20 percent of anticipated turnout, that's for sure," Hulten said. "We're still going to have absentee ballots from this weekend to count, and absentee ballots that come in from the mail, and in-person absentee at the office all day on Monday. And then all the absentee ballots that come in after Election Day will be added to that total.
"So I'm confident that we'll be close to 20,000, if not over 20,000, when you count everybody in Champaign County who voted before Election Day," he said.
The percentage of pre-Election Day voting in Champaign County could be as high as 25 percent, if significantly more absentee ballots come in, or if the final voter turnout is below the 2008 level.
The 18,610 absentee and early voters so far dwarfs the more than 8,700 who voted early or absentee in the 2008 election in Champaign County. At that election, however, early voting was available only at the Brookens Administrative Center in east Urbana. This year it has been expanded to the clerk's office and seven other sites around the county.
Those sites and their final number of early voters are: Brookens Center, 5,175; Meadowbrook Church in southwest Champaign, 3,076; Grace Church in Mahomet, 1,312; Illini Union, 1,209; Spalding Recreation Center in north Champaign, 1,107; Rantoul Recreation Center, 795; Tolono Public Library, 644; St. Joseph Village Annex, 584.
The pre-election voting totals should mean less hassle for voters and election officials on Tuesday, Hulten said.
"I still think we'll have 85,000 or 90,000 people vote total," he said, "but if 20,000 of them will have already early voted, it will mean shorter lines on Election Day and less stress for the voters and election judges. Hopefully it will mean an easier day on Election Day for everybody."
The precincts with the greatest number of early voters so far are almost all in strong Republican areas. Champaign 3, which votes at the Bible Baptist Church, 4001 W. Kirby Ave., C, already has recorded 463 voters. In the March primary election, 562 voters there took Republican ballots to 150 Democratic ballots.
Other big precinct turnouts so far: City of Champaign 34, Parkland College, 370 votes; City of Champaign 38, Windsor Road Christian Church, 2501 W. Windsor Road, C, 356 votes; Champaign 2, Alan Ryles Companies, 4102 Belmont Point, C, 345 votes; Mahomet 4, Lake of the Woods Clubhouse, 335 votes; Champaign 4, Savoy Recreation Center, 322 votes; Mahomet 1, Mahomet Area Community Center, 315 votes; Cunningham 19, Brookens Center, U, 320 votes; City of Champaign 33, Meadowbrook Church, 300 votes.