Ann Maher Feb. 20, 2014, 10:41am

Election Day is more than three weeks away, but voting is already under way in the Land of Lincoln.

On Feb. 6, registered voters were allowed to request ballots for the March 18 primary that will decide everything from precinct committeemen to party nominees for county, state and federal offices.

As of today, 223 of Madison County’s 176,000 registered voters had requested absentee ballots, according to County Clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza. She said that since last April’s municipal elections, an additional 5,293 registered voters have been added to the county roll.

Ming-Mendoza said she expects turn-out in this non-presidential primary election to fall within the 20-22 percent range, a figure typical of previous primary elections.

“I would love for it to be much higher,” she said. “But in primaries, people tend to shy away from declaring their party. They’re more apt to vote in November than in the primary.”

With conveniences of early voting – March 3-15 – and absentee voting – Feb. 6-March 17 – Ming-Mendoza said there is “no reason” why voters can’t set aside time to vote.

“It’s so important,” she said. “I do my very best to educate and make people aware.”

Early votes can be cast not only at the Madison County Administration building, but at nine satellite locations in Alton, Bethalto, Collinsville, Godfrey, Granite City, Madison, SIUE, Troy and Wood River.

Ming-Mendoza also said voters no longer have to provide a reason for requesting absentee ballots.

In St. Clair County, a total of 737 absentee ballots have so far been requested from a voter roll of approximately 150,000, according to County Clerk Tom Holbrook.

Holbrook noted that after he succeeded former Clerk Bob Delaney he undertook a voter roll purge, as required by law every two years. He said that approximately 30,000 from a list of approximately 180,000 were eliminated. In addition, 24,000 voters of the remaining 150,000 have been suspended.

As for early voting, Holbrook said his office has not yet determined where or how many satellite locations will be in place.

He expects turnout to be in the range of 15-20 percent.

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