Early voting turns out hefty chunk of registered voters

Ann Knef Oct. 30, 2008, 6:18am

More than 100 people were in line to vote early on Thursday afternoon, the last day to vote before the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

The line of voters wrapped along corridors of the second floor of the St. Clair County Courthouse on Thursday.

Election officials in Madison and St. Clair counties said early voting has eclipsed their expectations in the first presidential election it has been available.

Madison County Clerk Mark Von Nida said he expects more than 20 percent of registered voters will have voted by the end of the day Thursday, when early voting closes.

"It's way past the amount we expected," Von Nida said.

At 9 a.m. approximately 32,000 voters had cast a ballot in a county with approximately 178,000 registered voters. Von Nida said that approximately 5,000 absentee ballots had been mailed from his Edwardsville office.

Von Nida expects turnout in this election to exceed a previous record set in the November 2004 general election in which 120,000 voters voted.

"People have found that it's extremely convenient" to vote early, he said.

He expects early voting to continue to gain in popularity.

By the next general election and "God willing" he is still in office, Von Nida said he would continue to refine processes for voters' convenience.

In St. Clair County, Clerk Bob Delaney said he was "very happy" with early voting results so for.

Approximately 12,500 voters had voted by the end of Wednesday in a county with 164,856 registered voters.

The figure does not take into account East St. Louis, which has its own board of elections.

Delaney said he has mailed approximately 5,300 absentee ballots from his Belleville office.

He hopes that in the future the county board will allocate more funds for early voting so as to achieve results similar to Madison County.

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