Gay Keaty wasn’t concerned about going out to vote in the Illinois Primary Elections on Tuesday, but her kids were.
“They were worried about me because I’m older and more susceptible to it,” Keaty, of Oregon, said of the current COVID-19 virus concerns across the nation. “But I’m healthy. It’s important to come out and do this. I’m going home right now to wash my hands.”
The Chana Education Center special needs teacher came out to Nash Recreation Center on Tuesday with others to cast her vote. The polling place was smaller than usual due to officials from the currently-closed recreation center hoping to keep any potential contamination out of the rest of the building.
The voting activities were limited to just the lobby of Nash. Election judges lined the outside of the room with four places in the center of the room to cast votes. Carol Wig of Oregon wiped down the desks in the center with cleaning products after each person voted.
Voting took place at the Mt. Morris Village Hall. The room was large and split into four different sections. Rick Nelson of Mt. Morris came out to vote and said the COVID-19 virus issue never gave him any second thoughts about voting.
“It’s my duty,” Nelson said. “And it’s important.”
Nelson’s vote was put through the machine and cast by Amber Bennett, an Oregon High School student and Mt. Morris resident. It was Bennett’s fourth year working as an election judge. A handful of Oregon students like her are working as election judges around the county this year.
“It’s been pretty slow compared to previous years,” Bennett said.
Forreston Election Judge Dr. Thomas Hughes saw a first during his election day. He helped a new citizen vote for the first time in an election.
Eileen Anderson of Forreston became a citizen last November after living in the United States and the area since 1961. Her father was in the British Army and she’s originally from Britain and France.
“It felt pretty good,” Anderson said of voting. “I have a voice now.”
Forreston’s polling place at the township building also saw an entire family vote at once. Amy Chamberlain and her daughter, Paige came in during the evening to cast their votes. Paige, who serves in the U.S. Air Force National Guard is required to vote, and her mother feels strongly about it as well, despite the health scare some felt.
“We have to do our part,” Amy Chamberlain said.
Polo’s polling center was at the Polo Senior Center. One election judge called the turnout “not busy, but a nice trickle” of voters throughout the day.
Polo Pharmacy Technician Jennifer Garman made her way down the street after work to vote, decked out in St. Patrick’s Day garb.
Garman said she had some second thoughts about being around people at work and while voting due to the COVID-19 virus, but that she felt comfortable due to there being no reported cases in the area.
“I wasn’t so much concerned about myself, but others, especially older people, that are coming out,” Garman said. “We haven’t seen less people coming into the pharmacy, either. People are trying to get out and get their stuff in case something happens.”