Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

March 19, 2014

Sheriff's races, sales tax issue drive turnout in area counties

EFFINGHAM — There are only 322 registered voters in West Township in the southwest corner of Effingham County.

There are 320 registered voters in Precinct 9 of Douglas Township, located in the area surrounding St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital in Effingham.

But 56.88 percent of West Township voters cast ballots in Tuesday's primary election, compared to only 16.46 percent in Douglas 9. West and Douglas 9 showed the highest and lowest, respectively, voter turnout in Tuesday's voting.

Effingham County Republican chairman Steve Donaldson said the high turnout in West Township can be directly attributed to one man, Republican precinct committeeman Alan Shumaker.

"We have a precinct committeeman there who works his heart out," Donaldson said. "He goes door to door to everyone out there. He works it, and works it hard."

Shumaker, in his second term as precinct committeeman, said it's important to he and wife Joyce that citizens participate in the political process.

"One reason we're in the shape we're in is because people haven't been participating," Shumaker said.

But it's not enough for Shumaker to simply participate.

"The big thing is to educate yourself and then vote," he said. "We go house-to-house, but we don't just leave literature on the doorstep.

"I try to talk to each and every person in the precinct."

Shumaker said he also provides voter guides and sample ballots to his political flock.

Overall, 37.11 percent of the county's registered voters cast ballots for Tuesday's election. County Clerk Kerry Hirtzel said Tuesday's turnout was the highest for a gubernatorial primary election since the turn of the 21st century. Hirtzel added that 25.54 percent of registered voters cast ballots during the 2010 primary, preceded by 18.28 percent in 2006 and 25.88 in 2010.

Hirtzel said Tuesday's turnout had a lot to do with a hotly contested Republican primary race for sheriff, as well as a controversial sales tax initiative. Dave Mahon won the GOP nomination for sheriff with more than 40 percent of the vote in a four-way race, while the proposed 1 percent sales tax increase failed by nearly 3-to-1.

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