Turnout was brisk at the polls on Tuesday as voters lined up – in some cases before polling places opened at 6 a.m. – to elect the next president of the United States, members of Congress, state legislators and others.
“It’s been crazy,” said Brookfield election judge Carol Kissane, who was working Proviso Township Precinct 29 in the basement of the Brookfield Village Hall.
Not counting early ballots, some 420 voters had cast ballots by 3 p.m., representing about 35 percent turnout.
“It’s been terribly busy, which is good because it’s a critical election,” said Kissane.
Part of what made the day crazy in the Precinct 29 was the fact that two of the three touchscreen machines were broken most of the day.
Karl Sokol, who voted in the precinct around 11 a.m., said he had to wait about 20 minutes to use the one remaining functioning touchscreen machine.
Malfunctioning touchscreen machines were also a problem in Riverside Township Precinct 4.
According to veteran election judge Scott Schulze, one of the precinct’s two machines didn’t even boot up when voting started at 6 a.m., leaving them with just one functioning machine.
Voting was also brisk in that precinct. By 2:30 p.m., 36 percent of the precincts voters had come through the door of Room 4 inside the Riverside Township Hall. Counting early ballots cast by residents of the precinct, voter turnout by mid-afternoon on Tuesday was a little more than 50 percent.
While the touchscreen machine malfunction was a drawback, Schulze said he noticed most people asking for paper ballots in this election.
“Most people today seem to be using paper,” said Schulze. “I think news stories about [rumored problems] with the machines have people leaning toward paper.”
Schulze said the touchscreen machines can be temperamental, if they’re not calibrated properly.
“If they’re not calibrated right, you can touch one name and have it vote for someone else,” Schulze said. “I’ve seen it happen.”
A steady stream of voters filed through polling places at both Blythe Park School in Riverside and Hollywood School in Brookfield. As of 3:15 p.m., about 45 percent of registered voters, not counting early voters, cast their ballots on Tuesday in the of Riverside Township Precinct 11 at Hollywood School.
“We had one lull around lunch time and that was it,” said election judge Ben Barnett of Brookfield. “This precinct usually has a high turnout rate.”
According to Pat Pavlich, an election judge in Riverside Township Precinct 8, voters were lined up outside Blythe Park School as the polls opened. By about 2 p.m., counting early ballots, the precinct had seen about 50 percent turnout.
Turnout was also more than double what election judges saw during the midterm elections in 2010, said election judges at the North Riverside Village Commons.
“It’s been kind of crazy and fun, but it’s been a little bit stressful,” said Nicole Turczak, one of about 40 Riverside-Brookfield High School students who served as election judges Tuesday throughout the area. Turczak was working at Riverside Township Precinct 6.
Turczak, at 17, is not old enough to vote herself, but she enjoyed her first day as an integral part of the voting apparatus.
“I think it’s worth it,” she said. “I can’t vote, but I’m doing what I can.”