The number of early votes cast in Kane County for the March 18 primary election was nearly 2,900 at midday Monday, and Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham expects the number to approach the 6,100 early ballots cast in the spring 2010 primary.
Cunningham, who is seeking the GOP nomination next week, reiterated that his office seeks to provide people with the best opportunity to vote, not necessarily to increase voter turnout.
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Challenger Mark Davoust said the clerk's office must be out front all year to reverse declining voting trends.
Cunningham said Monday's warm weather boosted the total so far for early voting, which continues through Friday at 26 locations in Kane County and through Saturday at the Kane County's clerk's office.
"The first couple of days, the (cold) weather did interfere with turnout," said Cunningham, 75, of Aurora, who was first elected clerk in 2002. "With election, (early voters) usually wait until the last few days."
Cunningham expects the early voting tally to surpass 3,000 Monday because of warm weather and to eventually near the 6,100 early votes cast in the spring 2010 primary, which also featured a governor's race. More than 49,000 early votes were cast in Kane County for the 2008 general election, in which President Obama was elected.
Cunningham said it's impossible to compare a presidential election with a primary. Still, he noted that Republican early ballots cast so far have outnumbered Democratic ballots by a ratio of 3-to-1, due in large part to the hotly contested race to earn the GOP nod for governor.
Despite the success of early voting, turnout for the primary election is expected to be low.
"Our job is not to use taxpayer dollars to do (increase turnout)," Cunningham said, "it's to give people the greatest opportunity to vote."
For a list of early voting locations, visit kanecountyelections.org.
Davoust, 55, of St. Charles and a Kane County Board member since 2004, disagrees with Cunningham's approach.
"Turnout has been low and headed in the wrong direction for years now," Davoust said. "If we look at the numbers in either type of cycle -- general or primary (election) -- we have tremendous room for improvement. The (clerk's) office needs to be more proactive. It should be out there in the community talking about it all the time."
The winner of the March 18 election will advance to the Nov. 4 general election. So far, no Democrat has filed to run for the clerk's 4-year term.