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Why Local Elections Should Matter to ISU Students

Written by on March 26, 2021

NORMAL, Ill.- Less than two weeks out from the municipal election there are some things that you might want to know. There are two election commissions, and the County Clerk handles all elections except the Bloomington Municipal one because there is a separate commission called the Bloomington Election Commission


“People go, ‘Why is that? There are about five out of 102 counties that have two election jurisdictions,” said county clerk Kathy Michael. “That was set up by the towns and cities about 80 years ago. It seems to work, but it does get confusing sometimes. Our offices work well together.” 


Why should students care? Students may not live here, but Michael said the Municipal election still matters. Michael said students can have their hometown ballot mailed to them if they are not registered in McLean county. Michael said turnout for local elections is typically very low in comparison to the General Election. Kathy Michael’s said students should care because they contribute to the local economy and pay taxes.  


“Let’s face it, these folks are running for town council and mayor, and school boards which I think are even more important or as important as presidential. They’re not going to pour $50,000 into a race, they’re just moms and pops trying to make the world a better place,” said Michael.


There’s a lot of behind the scenes… there are polling judges and watchers. Michael said neither Bloomington nor Normal had problems with voter fraud in the past election. Michael said there are 20 county board members and every 10 years they’re the ones who are in charge of redrawing the maps to determine what wards in Bloomington lie where. 


If there isn’t a contested mayoral election, turnout tends to be lower. 


If you are interested in being an election judge there is online training. 


“That helps students to see it first hand also, whether you can be a poll watcher. We have very active poll watcher groups and we encourage that, both Bloomington and Normal. The scrutiny is better for everybody, and we don’t get bad publicity of any kind of voter fraud or anything like,” said Michael. “That’s never been reported in McLean county and we are very proud of that.” 


For Normal, voters will have to pick three candidates out of a list of nine. Michael said if you select more than three then it will void the ballot.