Posted Online: Nov. 07, 2012, 12:21 am

Election judges: one of the best turnouts in years

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By Leon Lagerstam, and Eric Timmons,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Mizener
Voters pack the polling place at First Christian Church, 1826 16th St. in Moline on Tuesday Nov. 6, 2012. The morning rain hasn't deterred voters from heading to the polls today with long lines reported at numerous polling places. The forecast for the rest of the day calls for a 20 percent chance of rain into the evening.
The turnout among Rock Island County voters for Tuesday's election was 71 percent, beating the 60 percent who voted in 2008.

In Mercer County turnout also was at 71 percent but it was lower in Henry County, where 67 percent of registered voters cast ballots, according to provisional results published last night.

A total of65,087 votes were reported in the presidential election in Rock Island County with all precincts reporting out of 91,636 registered voters.

Nearly 21,000 people had voted in Rock Island County by 2:30 p.m.

The heaviest voter turnout by 2:30 p.m. was in the west end of Rock Island, where 40 percent of expected votes were tallied, Mr. Brown said.

No major problems had been reported, he said.

Mr. Brown said he was unaware of discrepancies on a voting center list on the county clerk's home page. Of the 38 precinct sites listed, 21 listed other information in the link in the adjacent voting location list. Check

Mr. Brown suggested people with questions refer to their voting cards.

Voters were waiting when polling places opened Tuesday, and the heavy pace continued in what election judges and a poll watcher described as one of the best turnouts they've seen in years.

In the first three hours, more than 400 people voted at Moline's First Christian Church, election judge Taryn Hancock said. About 45 people were waiting when she announced at 6 a.m. that ''OK, the polls are open.''

Long lines kept forming and the church parking lot at 1826 16th St., Moline, stayed full.

''Everyone was eager to cast their vote,'' Ms. Hancock said.

It was no different at seven other Moline and Coal Valley precincts, according to poll watcher Justin Anderson. ''Judges are commenting of how unusually busy they are,'' he said.

It's his fifth election cycle as a poll watcher, and he said he's never seen it busier, but wasn't surprised by the turnout.

About 20 people were lined up in front of Rock Island Township Hall, 2827 7th Ave., Rock Island, and more than 225 voters had cast ballots by 10:20 a.m., election judge Irma Gripp said.

At the Martin Luther King Center in Rock Island, 300 to 400 voters were counted by 10:30 a.m., election judge Della Perkins said.

More than 20 people were waiting for the doors to open at the South Moline Township Senior Center, at 637 17th Ave., East Moline, election judge Tiffany Holmes said.

''It's been steady ever since,'' she said, with 565 voters counted by 11 a.m.

''We like to have fun here, so we try to predict how many people will vote,'' Ms. Holmes said. "We're predicting between 1,700 to 2,000."

By 11:30 a.m., 471 voters had made their way to the polling place at Riverside Garden Center, at 3400 5th Ave., Moline, election judge Don Fey said.

'"We've averaged about 90 per hour,'' he said.

He has been an election judge for the past 20 years, and declared ''this is as good as it gets."

Alfred Oien, of Moline, spent the morning at First Christian Church ''people watching,'' he said. It wasn't his polling place. He was waiting for his wife to finish working at the church's daycare. But he said it was the most voters he's remembered seeing since 1967.

Brandon Van Kauren of Moline rode his KHS Flite road bike in the rain to vote at the church.

''I didn't have to fight for a parking place this way,'' he said. He already had taken care of some banking business, and stood at the church entrance in the rain before getting into the church to vote and opening the door for other voters.

Ms. Gripp at Rock Island Township Hall said she was thankful it wasn't rain when she was carrying supplies in at 4:30 a.m.

A news crew from WREX-Channel 13, from Rockford, came to the Martin Luther King Center, to air reports about the 17th Congressional District race.

''Rockford's new to the 17th, and is a highly touted race,'' reporter and weekend news anchor Matt Groves said.

An election judge at the King Center announced at one point that "We're getting a lot of people who are not registered to vote here. Look on the back of your registration cards to see if you're supposed to be voting here or not."

People not knowing or realizing their polling place had changed was a recurring problem Tuesday, but not a major one, Ms. Hancock said.

''But I'm just glad to see so many people voting," Mr. Fey said.

Mr. Fey and Ms. Holmes said they saw many first-time voters at the polls Tuesday .

"It's been pleasantly busy,'' Mr. Fey said. "That's not always the case, especially at primaries. Some of them have been primarily dismal.''

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