Perry County Deputy Clerk Tory Woods has seen a few elections, and she says the Nov. 3 presidential election has all the earmarks of having a record-breaking turnout inside the county, despite COVID-19.
As of Thursday afternoon, about 3,000 Perry County residents had already voted, either by mail or at early voting sites. Of the 1,200 mail-in ballots that were sent to residents who requested them, nearly 1,000 were returned almost immediately, and more have come in since then, Woods said.
"I believe this will be a record-breaking election (in Perry County)," Woods said Thursday. Despite the difficulties presented by the coronavirus, "the election itself has more people out voting. They are wanting their voices heard, and the only way to do that is to vote."
Woods said she expects all votes to be counted Tuesday night, with the exception of any mail-in ballots that haven't arrived yet or any provisional ballots cast on Tuesday.
As long as mail-in ballots are postmarked by Nov. 3, they will be accepted for two weeks after the election day.
Woods said a group of four election judges -- two Democrats and two Republicans -- have been checking the signatures on the mail-in ballots and uploading them to the machines. The early votes are already on the machines, and will be counted at the end of the night on Tuesday.
"With the volume (of votes) we're getting, it could be overbearing" if they didn't keep up, she added.
Early voting is happening daily through Monday at the Perry County Clerk's office, in the Perry County Government Building, 3764 State Routes 13-127, Room 204 in Pinckneyville. The office is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday.
Woods said the longest lines for early voting are over the lunch hour, and suggests if people don't want to wait, they should come earlier or later. As it is, the wait at most has been about 20 minutes, she said.
Woods said the county will have a significant number of new election judges working the precincts on Tuesday. Many of the tried and true judges are sitting this one out, to protect themselves or family members from COVID-19.
"This election feels completely different," Woods admitted. "I've been through a general presidential election before, but this one, with COVID, has thrown as lot of different angles at us."
For example, on Friday she and several election judges will go to the Du Quoin nursing home with ballots. Clerk Beth Lipe will take another group of election judges and go to the Pinckneyville home.
They'll stand outside the buildings and watch through the windows as residents cast their ballots.
As well, the clerk's office is personally delivering ballots to COVID patients -- dropping the material on their porches and then calling them to come out and get it.
"It's kind of crazy, and it's been a lot of work and strain and a lot of late hours," Woods said. "But for me, personally, I've learned a lot."
To follow the Perry County results on Tuesday night, go to perryil.com and click on "election info" and then "election results."