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Local

Early voting underway in DeKalb County

Bob Hough of DeKalb heads into the DeKalb County Legislative Center to cast his early ballot Thursday in Sycamore. "We need a change," Hough said adding that he and wife, Alta Hough, have voted early every year since 1973 to coincide with their winter migration to Texas.
Bob Hough of DeKalb heads into the DeKalb County Legislative Center to cast his early ballot Thursday in Sycamore. "We need a change," Hough said adding that he and wife, Alta Hough, have voted early every year since 1973 to coincide with their winter migration to Texas.

Note to readers: This story has been changed to correct the party affiliations of Richard Schmack and Richard Amato, the number of contested county board races, and eliminate a reference to same-day voter registration, which was blocked by a federal judge this week. 

SYCAMORE – A total of 181 people cast ballots Thursday on the first day of early voting at the DeKalb County Legislative Center, 200 N. Main St. in Sycamore.

Early voting for the Nov. 8 general election will be available at the legislative center from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, as well as during the same hours on weekdays from Oct. 3 to 23. Early voting will resume here and at other DeKalb County locations Oct. 24.

Other early voting places include the DeKalb Township Building, Northern Illinois University's Holmes Student Center, Kirkland City Hall and Sandwich Fire Station.

Mark Pietrowski Jr., chairman of the DeKalb County Board, and his wife, Kori Rempfer, voted early Thursday.

Both said they knew which candidates they wanted to vote for in advance because they have been paying close attention to the election. Pietrowski previously served as head of the local Democratic Party.

"If you know who you want to vote for, there's no sense in waiting," Pietrowski said. "You might as well go early and make sure your vote is counted."

Pietrowski is running uncontested for District 3 County Board; however, he said competitive local races such as the states attorney's race should draw people out to vote.

In DeKalb County, incumbent Democratic State's Attorney Richard Schmack is facing Republican candidate Richard Amato, while Circuit Clerk Maureen Josh and Coroner Dennis Miller, both Republicans, are running unopposed. There are three contested DeKalb County Board races, one in District 2 and two in District 4. 

Sharon Holmes, an election judge and former county clerk, said she was not surprised at the number of early voters because of this year's presidential contest between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

"Two people were waiting in line to vote at 8:30 a.m. when we opened," she said.

With the time frame for early voting extended to 40 days before the election, more people can vote at their convenience, and it reduces traffic on Election Day, Holmes said.

"I would say 75 percent of people who came in today will be out of state within the next month," she said.

Matthew Streb, a political science professor at NIU, said he predicts that voter turnout for the general election will be lower than in previous years in DeKalb County.

President Barack Obama was on the ballot for the last two presidential elections – and because he is from Illinois, residents of his state were more likely to take an interest in voting, Streb said.

"Illinois on a national level is not at play," he said.

Clinton and Trump are reported to be the most disliked candidates in the past 10 presidential elections. That could discourage some voters from heading to the polls, Streb said.

"I don't think [voter turnout] will be remarkable," he said.

The 2012 presidential election saw a voter turnout of 72 percent in DeKalb County, while the 2008 presidential election saw 74 percent.

DeKalb County Clerk Doug Johnson said he was pleased to see everything running smoothly Thursday, and he expects a high turnout rate going forward.

"We don't want to underestimate," Johnson said.

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