Voter turnout not likely to match last year's election

Ace Weisenburger, 9, waits for his mom, Jackie Weisenburger to finish voting Tuesday morning at the Knights of Columbus polling place. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: Apr. 9, 2013 9:41 am Updated: Apr. 23, 2013 10:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Election Day is always special for Joe Homberger. He makes no secret about wanting to cast his ballot.

"I can't wait to vote," he says. "I always vote early, on the way to work. I always look forward to it. If you don't vote, you have no right to complain."

Homberger was one of the voters who cast their ballots before 7 a.m. this morning at the Knights of Columbus polling center on South 36th Street.

Unfortunately, Homberger's enthusiasm is not met by all. Traditionally, a municipal election such as today's does not see the same level of turnout as a presidential election.

"I don't know why, but if it's not a (presidential election), there is always a fall-off," said Kenny Gilbert, an election worker at the Knights of Columbus site. "You would think it would always be the same, but it's not."

Gilbert, however, was pleasantly surprised this morning when he arrived at the South 36th polling site.

"They were some people lined up when we arrived, and I usually get here between 5:15 and 5:30," he said. "A year ago (for the presidential election), it was really hectic."

Adams County Clerk Georgia Volm is projecting a 40 percent turnout in Quincy. With 26,488 registered voters in the city, that means about 10,500 people are anticipated to cast ballots.

Countywide, Volm is expecting a 35 percent turnout.

The actual foot traffic at the polls may be further reduced by the more than 1,800 people in Adams County who took advantage of voting in advance of today's elections. That's nearly double the 990 people who cast early ballots four years ago.

Donna Freer has been an election worker in Quincy since she moved here in 2001. Before that, she volunteered during elections in Chicago.

"There wasn't anyone waiting when we opened today, but they lined up pretty quick afterward," said Freer, who was assisting at the Salem Evangelical Church site on South Ninth. "They usually come in bunches. There are spurts all day."

Arguably creating the most interest in today's election in Quincy are the mayoral, School Board, City Council and treasurer's races.

Democratic incumbent John Spring his seeking a third term as mayor and is being challenged by first-term Republican Alderman Kyle Moore. Peggy Crim is trying for a fourth term as treasurer and is squaring off against Republican challenger Tom Ernst. There are three City Council seats being contested, while three School Board seats are being sought by eight candidates,

Also on the ballot are three candidates seeking two available seats on the John Wood Community College Board of Trustees and five candidates vying for four Quincy Park District Board of Commissioners positions.

Another early voter today, Denny Wombles, said his family has always taken voting quite seriously.

"It's always been a family thing," he said. "My grandfather, Dee Wombles, who was a township supervisor for 36 years (in Pike County), voted for 22 presidents."

Wombles said it always puzzles him why the turnout falls off in the non-presidential election years.

"People seem to lose interest, and I don't know why," he said. "It's just as important."

Mark Bichsel got off work this morning at 7, and the first thing he did was head to the polls.

"I vote every year," he said. "A lot of people fought and died for this right, and a lot of people are still fighting. It's a shame more people don't take advantage."

Polls close tonight at 7.