Patch at the Polls: Senior Voters Out in Force at VFW, LHS
Election officials said voter turnout has been high in Precincts 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11.
2:40 p.m. — Lemont High School polling place
There also has been a high turnout of senior voters from Precincts 4 and 5 at Lemont High School, election judges said.
Like the precincts voting at VFW Post 5819, Precincts 4 and 5 encompass much of older Lemont, including the downtown's west end and the area around the high school.
As of 2:40 p.m., Precinct 4 had 226 voters and Precinct 5 had 230.
"Turnout has been great so far," election judge Paul Cimino said. "I wouldn't be surprised if it beat the 2008 presidential election."
According to Cimino, the line for voting in Precinct 5 has been steady throughout the day.
"I think there are a lot of issues on the ballot that have people concerned — particularly the local issues," he said.
1:30 p.m. — VFW Post 5819
Election judges in Lemont Township Precincts 7, 8 and 10 reported a high turnout of senior voters with strong interest in the referendum at the VFW Post 5819 in downtown Lemont.
As of 1:30 p.m., the precincts had 551 voters cast their ballots, not counting the more than 300 residents who voted early or absentee, said Precinct 7 election judge Dwayne Wojtowicz.
"There's more at stake during this election," he said. "I think people really want to send a message at the state and federal level."
According to Wojtowicz, many voters at the VFW came in asking if they could vote only for the referendum proposed by Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A.
"The referendum is a big deal to a lot of voters, which is why I think we have this turnout," he said. "If it fails, people have a lot at stake with their property values."
The three precincts comprise most of the older portion of Lemont, which stretches past the canal and includes some of the residences around the downtown area. As a result, many of the voters at the VFW were older residents, election judges said.
"There have been a lot of senior citizens," Precinct 7 judge Claire Cimino said. "These precincts include a lot of older homes and older people, so it will be interesting to see the effect they have on the vote here."
Despite the high turnout of senior voters, judges at the VFW were expecting to see more people.
"There seems to be a lot fewer people than in February, but we still have the rush from the trains and after-work crowd," Cimino said.
Outside the VFW facility, Citizens for 113A member Laura Pelen passed out flyers encouraging residents to vote in favor of the School District's referendum. When asked if the group was concerned about the impact seniors might have on the vote, she said they are "concerned about all precincts."
"We're at all the precincts today because this is a community issue," Pelen said.
9:40 a.m. — Centennial Community Center polling place
As Lemont voters file in and out of polling places Tuesday to cast their midterm election ballots, Bob Aument and Ron Henricksen are prepared for a long day ahead.
The two Lemont residents are longtime election judges who also happen to be good friends. In fact, they live just a few houses apart.
"We got together before I was even in my house," said Henricksen, who moved to Lemont four years ago. "Come to find out, we were both trained election judges in Cook County."
Henricksen and Aument are election judges in Lemont Township Precinct 11, which comprises the area south of 127th Street from the Lemont Park District offices to the Chestnut Crossing subdivision. The two men arrived at Centennial Community Center at 5 a.m. Tuesday to prepare for the rush of morning voters.
"Voter traffic was heavy all morning — very steady," Aument said.
Precinct 11 had 1,358 registered voters before Tuesday's election, according to election judge Sandy Wall. As of 9:40 a.m., 123 people had voted at Centennial, Henricksen said.
Approximately 215 voters in Precinct 11 voted early, Wall said.
"I think it has to do with the School District's referendum," Henricksen said, referring to the $8 million working cash bond proposal for Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A.
Henricksen, who served as an election judge in LaGrange for more than 20 years before coming to Lemont, said he works during the elections "to give back to the community."
"Everyone has to do something," he said. "This is my way of performing community service, and it's fun."
Aument, who has served as an election judge in Lemont for nine years, said he enjoys the camaraderie among the judges and election officials.
"It's a fellowship," he said. "We're here all day together, making sure people are voting properly and that the ballots are accounted for."
Aument said he and the rest of the judges will close the polls at 7 p.m., allowing any remaining voters to cast their ballots. Once everyone has voted, they will count the paper ballots and report the totals to Cook County headquarters, he said.
Though being an election judge requires a long day of work, Henricksen said he enjoys talking with the voters in line.
"One of the reasons I like Lemont so much is how courteous and friendly everyone is," he said. "It's a much different atmosphere than anywhere I've worked."
Check Lemont Patch later today for more election coverage.