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Early voting up in Kane, but slows in rest of Fox Valley

A steady pace voters have been turning out cast their early vote Thursday Gail Borden Public Library Elgin. 
October 25

A steady pace of voters have been turning out to cast their early vote Thursday at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin. October 25, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 7, 2012 6:25AM

Voters lined up across Kane County to cast their votes early, but they still didn’t escape the wait.

At Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin on Saturday, voters had to wait in line for 2½ hours throughout the day, and a library employee said 1,300 people voted on just that one day in just that one location. Saturday was the last day of early voting in Kane County.

Across Kane, early voting has grown in popularity, with 54,212 people — including early, absentee, disabled, military and grace period voters — lining up to cast their ballots this year. In 2008, there were 47,867 total early voters.

That’s out of 223,956 registered voters in the county, which means that 24.2 percent of registered voters headed to the polls early.

“Basically, I am very satisfied with early voting,” said Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham. “In 2008, had we not had early voting — with the equipment we have — people would have been voting at 1 a.m. election night.”

In addition to early voting at the courthouse, clerk’s office and other government sites, Cunningham said that the county’s mobile precinct bus — which the clerk’s office parked for two days in a row in front of various shopping centers throughout the early voting period — proved popular.

Cunningham said more people voted in the early voting period than in the primary election, and that early voting proved most popular among registered Republicans, followed by non-affiliated voters, then by Democrats.

But in the rest of the Fox Valley, early voting wasn’t as popular.

In Kendall County, about 7,400 out of the approximately 65,000 registered voters in the county — about 11.4 percent — voted early, according to Clerk Debbie Gillette. That’s down slightly from the roughly 8,900 that voted early in 2008.

In Aurora, too, early voting was down slightly. Only 8,074 residents voted early, out of 57,673 registered voters — or about 14 percent. The number of registered voters in the city has dropped, too — there were about 64,000 registered voters in Aurora in 2008, according to Linda Fechner, executive director of the Aurora Election Commission.

And in DuPage County, early voting also dropped. Just 78,246 people voted early, compared to 96,185 in 2008.

Election officials speculated that the turnout had less to do with early voting and more to do with the races.

“In 2008, Obama seemed to excite the voters and bring them out,” said Cunningham. “I’m not sure we’ll see that this year. There doesn’t seem to be as much enthusiasm.”

As for whether the early voting totals will make for a busy Election Day, clerks and election officials were less certain.

“I don’t make predictions,” said Fechner. “I count on 100 percent of people showing up. I plan on 110 percent showing up. We’ll be ready.”

Cunningham did make a couple predictions.

“I think someone’s gonna win, and someone’s gonna lose,” he said, adding, “my crystal ball broke a few years ago, so I’m usually wrong, but 140,000, 145,000 votes, I think, would be excellent.”

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