SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Ahead of Election Day, nearly 1.2 million Illinoisans have already cast their vote.
According to State Board of Elections data last updated Monday morning, 1,188,187 Illinois residents have either voted early, returned their mail-in ballot, or voted with a Grace Period ballot.
One political expert thinks this is a good sign of turnout for this year’s election.
“We had very high turnout in the last three elections, and so it looks like, you know, we’re going to have pretty good turnout,” UIS Political Science Professor Emeritus Kent Redfield, said.
Redfield said voter turnout is typically lower for midterm elections compared to presidential ones.
“More people are motivated by a presidential election than they are a gubernatorial election, in most cases,” Redfield said. “And so you’re always going to get that that variation. But right now, it looks like … there’s a lot of interest in this election.”
More people in Sangamon County have already done their civic duty compared to the 2018 midterm election.
“The combined totals of vote by mail, and early voting are exceeding what we’ve done in our last [midterm] election of 2018,” Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray said.
More than 22,000 people have voted already in both Sangamon County and Champaign County.
Election officials said a large majority of the early voting turnout is coming from Vote by Mail. 875,000 people have applied to mail-in vote, with more than 60% returning their ballot.
“In 2018, we only had a total of 427,000 votes cast by mail,” State Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich said. “So we’re way ahead of that mark, we still have about 330,000 vote by mail ballots that are in the hands of voters that still may be voted.”
Gray said that follows similar trends in Sangamon County.
“In office early voting is down almost 30% to what we’ve done in past elections,” Gray said. “A lot of those voters are starting to transition to the vote by mail process. It’s definitely up a lot. We’re up about 125% comparable to last 2018.”
Vote by mail ballots can be counted as long as they are postmarked on Election Day and received in the next two weeks. This could impact the final election results depending on the number of outstanding ballots.
“Beginning tomorrow night when the unofficial totals start being reported, we’re going to do everything we can to remind people, ‘Hey, those are unofficial results you’re seeing,'” Dietrich said. “It could change by, as we know now, up to 330,000 votes.”
Dietrich said the state doesn’t certify the election results until December 5.