DeKALB – After months of phone calls, advertisements and polls, tens of thousands of DeKalb County residents are expected to cast their ballots today in what could be a record local turnout.
An extended early-voting period has resulted in 7,840 ballots cast – a 120 percent increase from early voting in the last presidential election, DeKalb County Clerk John Acardo said. With 14 percent of DeKalb County registered voters already accounted for, Acardo said he hopes to exceed the 74.4 percent – or 45,178 voters – who participated in the 2008 election.
“Based on historical precedent, we expect around 71 to 72 percent turnout,” Acardo said. “But I hope we do surpass that. Any election authority would love to see 100 percent turnout.”
Acardo said the strong early-voting turnout is not only a good indicator but also helpful to the voters who will come out today because lines will be shorter. He said voters should set aside between five to 10 minutes for the process, although some polling locations will be busier than others.
All of the 42 voting locations are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters can find their polling place at www.votedekalb.com, along with other Election Day information.
“The theory behind early voting is the more people that come out and vote, the less interruption there will be on Election Day,” Acardo said. “We do anticipate a very busy Election Day and a steady stream all day, but taking away 8,000 voters will help expedite that.”
Early voting also offers residents eager to see results a glimpse at potential outcomes. Acardo said a tally of the nearly 8,000 ballots cast early would be released minutes after the polls close at 7 p.m. Results will be updated frequently at Election Central on www.daily-chronicle.com. To discuss the results on Twitter, tweet with the hashtag #DCEC.
Acardo reminded residents they must provide only their signature to cast a ballot, but encouraged people to bring photo identification and their voter registration card in the rare case of a challenge.
There are also three phone numbers residents can call to reach Acardo’s office with last-minute questions. Voters can call 815-895-7149, 815-895-7147 or 815-895-7153 for assistance.
Today is one of the most expensive days for Acardo’s office, as election operations will cost the county about $400,000 this year, a figure that includes the cost of the March primary. Efficiencies such as electronic check-in stations are being tested in select polling locations and could lead to savings if they are expanded in the future.
“The new technology has worked very well, but we’re holding back a bit as we anticipate a heavy turnout,” Acardo said. “We want to test it during less hectic and busy elections.”
With less than 24 hours until polls opened, parties and candidates were still working late Monday.
Steve Kuhn, chairman for the DeKalb County Republicans, said party volunteers would even work today, offering rides to polling places for those who need transportation assistance.
“We want people to get out and vote and vote how they feel,” Kuhn said. “A lot of people have paid a very high price for us to have this right.”
DeKalb County Republicans and DeKalb County Democrats will have results parties today. Republicans will meet at Tapa La Luna in DeKalb while the Democrats will gather at River Heights Golf Course in DeKalb. Both events start about 7 p.m.
For last-minute election questions, residents can find information at www.votedekalb.com or reach the county clerk’s office at 815-895-7149, 815-895-7147 or 815-895-7153.
For up-to-the-minute results and election coverage, visit Election Central at www.daily-chronicle.com. To join the conversation on Twitter, tweet with the hashtag #DCEC.