DeKALB – Northern Illinois University graduate student Kevin Barton, 23, from Collinsville, wanted to vote in the community he calls home, but when he tried to register at the NIU polls during Tuesday's midterm election, he faced unexpected hurdles.
The historically high midterm voter turnout – at 89 percent, or nearly 1,000 voters compared to 14 percent, or 78 votes during 2014's midterms – meant students waited in line for hours to register same-day and vote. Local democrats are crying foul at the waiting times, while County Clerk officials say lines are business as usual.
“I was in line about a half-hour [at the NIU Holmes Student Center], and had only moved 10 feet, but then a lady came through telling everyone that any previously registered voters in the state of Illinois were not able to re-register and vote at the student center," Barton said. Barton's friend urged him to go back to the polls and try again, because the information he had been given was wrong.
"I went back and ended up waiting for another two hours to vote," Barton said. "When I got into the poll room, they had run out of ballots and had to print more, which took 30 more minutes."
Doug Johnson, who was re-elected for a second term as county clerk and recorder, said election officials "went way beyond the call of duty and law to accommodate students," and that "it's not something we have to do."