In Elmwood Park early voters are eager to see the election season end

I Voted! wrist bands
Voters pick up an I Voted! wrist brands at 15 W Washington St. after casting their ballot on Oct 25, 2016. (Christen Gall/ MEDILL).

By David Jordan

At the Elmwood Park Village Hall early voters were eager to get this election over with.

The line was short and most voters were done in about 15 minutes in one of the last days of early voting. And when the election judges thought back to last year’s early voting period, they said there didn’t seem to be an uptick this year.

Amid the talk about a flood of early voters causing  long lines across the U.S., Elmwood Park is not one of these places.

There’s just not that much excitement about the election, said residents in the working class Chicago suburb. Many say they exhausted with the election and want to move on.

“People here are not that enthusiastic, even if they are worried about things like the Supreme Court,” said Donna Roehri, secretary of the Leyden Township Republican Organization.

Leyden Township, which comprises Elmwood Park and nine other villages, is slightly more Republican than the suburban Cook County average, but registered Democrats still dominate nearly two to one. Among Republicans there reportedly has been strong support for  Donald Trump, although some residents were  hesitant to admit this.

In Elmwood Park, where the median income is about one-fifth below the median income for Cook County, some voters were more concerned about personal issues such as the earned sick time referendum on the state-wide ballot.

“[It was] one of the more important things on the ballot,” said Jessica Grullón.

Similarly, Megan Toohey said she was more concerned about gun control and taxes. She wouldn’t say who she voted for, but said she arrived at the polling place with no doubts.

“My mind was made up after the third debate,” said Toohey. “There wasn’t much point to waiting.”

Voters on both sides of the political spectrum in Elmwood Park observed that there has been a lot less casual discussion of politics this year. Yard signs were few and far between, and even when people were willing to discuss the issues important to them, some declined to say who they voted for at the top of the ballot.

But not Sam Fowler. He voted early for Trump, saying he knew the real estate mogul was his candidate well before the primary. He made sure to register in time before to vote in the presidential primary in March. ”Before that I haven’t voted in God knows how long,” added Fowler.

He believes that Trump will provide economic security to people like himself. Although he has found a stable job he pointed to his close friend who graduated from the same program with a higher GPA but has struggled to find work in IT. He is attracted to Trump’s protectionist policies, repeating the Republican candidate’s talking point on bringing jobs back to America. Despite some of Trump’s more controversial statements and scandals, he still supports the candidate.

Janet Lindeman has been dismayed this election season about Trump’s comments on women.

“I am pained that we are having these discussions in 2016,” she said.

She normally supports Democratic politicians, although during the Republican primaries there were some candidates who she “did not mind.” But to her, Trump’s candidacy has been a frightening experience. Lindeman worries about the vitriol of this election, and how so many people have been so violently opposed to both candidates.

“This election is just so polarizing, I do not bring it up,” said Lindeman.

And yet despite the vitriol of the election that upset many, voters were still eager to participate in the process.

Grullón was there with her husband Ramón and their 9-year-old daughter Nevaeh, who was allowed to fill out part of the ballot in the voting booth. Nevaeh was more excited than her mother at the prospect of seeing a woman president. The parents, still wearing their Cubs gear three days after the World Series win, were eager to encourage their daughter’s excitement with the civic process.

“You get to see history every week now,” said Ramón. “First the Cubs, then Hillary.”

Photo at top: An early voter getting the task out of the way after a long and contentious campaign.(Guy King/MEDILL)