Ndona Muboyayi remembers two years ago, when she stood in front of the Civic Center polling place, urging those who showed up to cast one of their early votes for her.
Muboyayi, who did not win a slot on the District 65 Board of Education in 2021, was back at the Civic Center again on Monday, passing out campaign literature, trying once more to win a seat on the board.
But this year, Muboyayi said turnout at the only early voting location in Evanston, was “slow.”
Over about an hour, Muboyayi said she had spoken with only about half-a-dozen voters.
“Two years ago there was a lot more traffic,” she recalled, probably because “there was a mayoral race and all the seats for alderman,” as well as school board contests.
On the first early voting day in 2021, 158 people cast ballots, out of the 3,047 who would ultimately vote over the entire early, in-person balloting period.
In 2023, 158 may seem huge.
This year, besides school board races again, there are only two aldermanic slots on the ballot — the 2nd and 9th Wards, where the incumbents were named to fill vacancies, and so are running for the remaining two years in a four-year term. Both incumbents have opposition.
Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th), one of the appointees, was also outside the Civic Center on Monday, using his lunch hour to campaign.
Geracaris said he was “not super-surprised” at the low turnout so far, but said he’s an early voter himself.
“I’m a naturalized citizen,” Geracaris noted, “so voting means a lot to me. I like the process of doing it in person.”
Early voting at the Civic Center runs daily through April 3. Election Day is April 4, where voting is held at various polling places around town, keyed to where you live.
It is also possible to vote by mail.
In 2021, total turnout (mail, early in-person, and in-person on Election Day) in the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 area (somewhat larger than just Evanston itself) was 23%.
As low as that number was, suburban Cook County turnout overall two years ago was an abysmal 16%.
Whatever the total turnout ends up being this year, Ann and Jonathan Hubbard will be part of the count.
The Hubbards both voted early at the Civic Center on the first day it was possible.
“We live right across the street,” Ann said.
“We voted early because we knew who we wanted, and we wanted to get it done.”
I voted today. There were few other voters there, who were outnumbered by the folks who monitored the polls. Frankly, it’s not hard to understand. There was only a couple of school board races to vote on, and in those races only a minority of the candidates would fail to be elected. As a parent of three kids in the public schools it was something that needed to be done.
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