On any other election day, voters would typically be lined up outside Winston Churchill School in Homewood waiting for the polling doors to open at 6 a.m.
But when today’s special 2nd congressional district primary kicked off, only one person was waiting, said Homewood election judge Lester Kloss.
“That pretty much set the tone of the day,” said Kloss, who’s worked Homewood elections since 2004.
“We knew it was going to be light, but we didn’t think it was going to be quite this light.”
Another election judge, Rob McMamany, added that the off-and-on snow and sleet isn’t helping with voter turnout.
Just after 2 p.m., about 316 registered voters in four of Bloom Township’s precincts casted their ballots at the south suburban school, according to election judges.
Eighteen candidates, including 14 Democrats, are running in the primary election today to replace Jesse Jackson Jr., who pled guilty last week to misusing campaign funds.
The 2nd congressional district encompasses Chicago’s far South Side and parts of the south suburbs.
Four charges — making a false statement, mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy — were filed against Jackson Jr. for allegedly spending some $750,000 in campaign funds for personal use, including a gold-plated men’s Rolex watch.
He is facing more than four years in prison and will be sentenced on June 28.
Some Homewood residents who did trek through the snow to vote had some words for their former congressman.
“It’s unbelievable that a grown man, educated with any kind of sense, would get caught up in something like that,” said Juan Lewis. “It’s pitiful.”
Lewis added that he didn’t think Jackson Jr. was a crook.
“He was just somebody who was stupid.”
Lewis said he voted for Democratic candidate Robin Kelly due to her stance on gun control.
“Halvorson, she’s in favor of gun rights .... and the (National Rifle Association) has been backing her, so I couldn’t vote for that,” Lewis said.
“And I thought the other people on the ballot, half of them shouldn’t be on the ballot, so I didn’t really have a choice.”
Gun-violence prevention was also a key issue that brought Darrell Simms to the polls.
“We’re in the Chicago area with all the gun violence that’s been going on,” he said. “We can’t consider ourselves, because we’re in the suburbs, to be remote from that. It’s only a matter of time before we’re affected by it.”
Homewood resident Pamela King said the next representative in Congress needs to bring more jobs to the south suburbs.
The prospect of a national airport in Peotone, Ill., is a long-awaited project for some residents in the district. Jackson Jr. had been pushing to make the airport a reality.
“I’m still with that airport issue, so I don’t know what’s with that,” King said. “That has to do with jobs.”
King added that she “can’t help but feel sympathetic” for Jackson Jr.
“I think that he was embarrassed and he messed up, and I feel bad for him, but I also think he’ll be back,” King said. “I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him.”
Despite the long list of candidates to choose from, the voting process took voters only a few minutes, Kloss said.
“They’re not here very long, because there’s only one thing to vote for,” he said. “So they’re here, bang, and they’re out.”
Kloss and other election judges read the newspaper and ate snacks as they waited for their next voter.
When asked if the turnout may increase during rush hour, Kloss said, “If we do, it would be nice, but if we don’t, I don’t think anybody is going to be surprised at all.”
The general election for the 2nd district race is April 9.