Turnout at the polls in Riverside, North Riverside and Brookfield looks about on par with previous local elections, though the controversial tax referendum for Riverside-Brookfield High School seems to have brought a few more voters out.
Visits by the Landmark to polling places this afternoon in all three villages has found voter turnout to be between 14 and 24 percent. Election judges characterized the turnout as ranging from “better than anticipated” in Riverside’s ninth precinct at Ames School, which had 24 percent turnout by 3:30 p.m., to “a trickle” at Riverside’s fifth precinct at Hauser Junior High School, which had a turnout of about 19 percent by 4 p.m.
Voter turnout in suburban Cook County was 20.8 percent for the 2009 consolidated election and 17.2 percent in 2007, according to data from the Cook County Clerk.
One thing appears to be certain, however: People are heading to the polls to cast their vote on the RBHS tax question.
“I only voted for one thing,” said a Riverside woman who declined to identify herself after casting her ballot at Ames School. “I voted no. It would mean $1,000 a year, and that’s a lot of money for me.”
Asked what brought him out to vote at the North Riverside Village Commons this afternoon, Brian Ticknor didn’t hesitate.
“The RB referendum. I definitely think it’s not the time for the school to ask for more money,” Ticknor said.
At Blythe Park School, Julie Laube, a resident of Riverside Precinct 8, said the tax increase question and the District 96 board race were the reasons she came to vote. A former teacher, she said she voted against the tax increase.
“I just don’t see the point,” Laube said. “There’s always a way to do something. When I was a teacher I volunteered to coach volleyball and basketball. If it’s really for the kids, you can do it without threatening to cut sports.”
Pro-referendum forces were at Blythe Park School this morning – but before polls opened. Election judges arrived at the school at about 5 a.m. and reported finding pro-referendum slogans written in chalk on the doors and sidewalk in front of the main entrance. Other slogans were laid out in colored tape on the sidewalk and fliers were taped to the windows and brick wall outside the front entrance.
The graffiti was removed by custodial staff before the polling place opened, according to judges at that site.
However, at S.E. Gross Middle School and Hollywood School in Brookfield, sentiment about the referendum ran slightly in favor of the RB tax increase, according to the voters interviewed by the Landmark.
“I feel the school needs the money,” said Brookfield resident Tony Silva, who voted at Gross School. “Funding for the school should be a priority no matter what happens.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Brookfield resident Carl Habercoss, who also voted at Gross.
“I believe in the quality of education that Riverside-Brookfield provides,” Habercoss said. “I know it’s a real good school. They can use the money to keep up providing a good education.”
Of course, there were the voting stalwarts, like Mary Baker, a resident of Riverside for 40 years. Interviewed outside of Hauser Junior High, Baker said she didn’t come out to vote because of any specific issue.
“I vote in every election,” Baker said. “It’s a privilege.”
Bob Skolnik contributed to this report.