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Voting 11/05/18 (2)

People vote at Burgess-Osborne Auditorium in Mattoon on Tuesday.

CHARLESTON -- Coles County voters' interest in Tuesday's election is shown by the number of people who actually voted before then.

The county's number of "early" votes cast ahead of Election Day was nearly the same as the total increase the county saw in the number of voters from the 2014 election.

It helped push the county's turnout to its highest for a midterm election in at least 12 years.

In all, 17,365 of Coles County's 30,551 registered voters cast ballots in the election for a turnout of just more than 56.8 percent.

Of those, 4,532 took advantage of early voting, voting at locations such as the Coles County Courthouse instead of waiting until Tuesday to go to their precincts' polling places.

For the 2014 general election, the early voting total was 2,306 less than this year's. Turnout for that election was just less than 50 percent and it was about 47 percent for both the 2010 and 2006 midterm elections.

Coles County Clerk Sue Rennels, whose office oversees and conducts elections, said polling places reported being "very busy" but "very steady" on Tuesday.

"For a larger turnout, things went smoothly," she said.

She added that she is "elated" that the county experienced no voting equipment issues, some of which were reported in other parts of the country.

Coles County voters' interest was likely heightened by highly visible races that included state and federal lawmakers and county officials.

The rematch between incumbent Republican Jim Rankin and Democrat Greg Voudrie for county sheriff was closer than the race was in 2014.

There was once again somewhat of an east-west split of support between Rankin, a rural Charleston resident and Ashmore native, and Voudrie, a Mattoon area resident whose police career included time on that city's police department.

A by-precinct breakdown of the voting shows that Voudrie was the top vote-getter in 20 of county's 44 precincts, most in Mattoon and the west side of the county.

He also received support from voters in the Eastern Illinois University campus area. Eight of the 11 Charleston precincts in which Voudrie received more votes had polling places at the EIU student union or the on-campus Newman Catholic Center.

Campus voting also led to what could be called a bit of a surprise, with newcomer Democrat Juan Nevarez-Barron topping Republican Coles County Board member Paul Stranz for the board seat from District 3.

Nevarez-Barron received about 52 percent of the vote overall but about 75 percent in the district's Charleston 14 and Charleston 17 precincts, which both have campus polling places.

County voters favored Republican candidates in nearly all races for state officials and state and federal lawmakers.

The exception was the support for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, as the Democrat received just less than 52 percent of the county's vote.

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