As some Illinois voters headed to the polls Tuesday to choose a GOP presidential nominee and determine the fates of some longtime politicians, election officials predicted the worst.
And, in terms of turnout, they have gotten it. Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, told the Chicago Sun-Times Tuesday afternoon that voter turnout for the primary election throughout the city has been "extremely low."
Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal, who has continually stressed the importance of the election in recent weeks, previously told Fox Chicago this could be one of the lowest voter turnouts on record in Cook County.
Turnout Tuesday was reportedly better in Republican strongholds, where voters can weigh in on the GOP presidential contest that has, in Illinois, come down between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, the Sun-Times notes.
And those Republican voters, according to early reports, have called the economy their top issue in choosing a candidate Tuesday. About 4 in 10 voters said that campaign ads were a major factor in their vote and almost half the voters said they made up their minds in the final days of the campaign before the election.
The electorate in Illinois has been markedly less evangelical than voters in last week's Alabama and Mississippi primaries and only about 1 in 4 voters have identified as "very conservative" -- also a much smaller number than last week's GOP contests.
In the GOP presidential contest, front-runner Mitt Romney appears to be surging heading into the Illinois primary.
"I fully expect him to win ... and when he does, I think it'll be yet another step towards the nomination," Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., who campaigned alongside Romney on Monday, told the Associated Press. "You know this is the only candidate the White House fears about winning the nomination."
Rick Santorum has campaigned in Illinois in recent days, but will spend election night in his home state of Pennsylvania.
Aside from the presidential race, Illinois also has a few contentious congressional races happening. Redistricting has pitted longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo against freshman U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Democratic U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has a challenger in former one-term U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson.
On a more local level, the battle for the Cook County Clerk's office has turned out to be quite heated. For 12 years, Dorothy Brown ran the office -- where nearly everything is still paper and carbon. As the Chicago Sun-Times points out, Brown promised to modernize the office for years, but her challenger says she had plenty of time to do something, and didn't.
Brown's primary challenger, Ald. Ricky Munoz, says his opponent is "clueless" about her own office. In true Cook County fashion, both candidates have their share of dirty laundry. The Sun-Times reports:
While Brown has weathered controversies such as “Jeans Day,” Munoz, has likewise been through storms. His father was convicted in federal court of making fake ID’s. Munoz went public with his alcoholism and says he has given up alcohol. While he was an independent sometimes picking fights with the Mayor Richard M. Daley in his 19 years on the City Council, he voted for Daley’s controversial sale of parking meters.
Also on the ballot is a long list of (mostly Democrat) judges -- who you can learn more about here.
Stay tuned to HuffPost Chicago for live national and local updates all day and night. For the national Illinois Primary live blog, click here.
BEFORE YOU GO
03/20/2012 10:51 PM EDT
Another Incredibly Close Race
@ ourmaninchicago :
Berrios/Guzzardi gap down to 101 votes. 81 of 84 precincts reporting.
03/20/2012 10:49 PM EDT
Mitchell, Johnson Neck At Neck
@ ChiJournal :
Results are starting to come in, and Christian Mitchell and Kenny Johnson are neck and neck in the 26th District state rep race.
03/20/2012 10:44 PM EDT
Chicago Stayed Home, Apparently
@ EddyElfenbein :
According to CNN's exit poll, Chicago makes up 5% of Illinois' primary voters.
03/20/2012 10:42 PM EDT
Duckworth Will Face Walsh In November
Tammy Duckworth, the Iraq War veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, has defeated challenger Raja Krishnamoorthi for the Democratic ticket in the 8th District Congressional race in Illinois.
Krishnamoorthi conceded the race to Duckworth, the Chicago Tribune reports, after Duckworth led with 66 percent of the vote to Krishnamoorthi's 34 percent with about 60 percent of the precincts reporting.
Read the whole story here.
03/20/2012 10:27 PM EDT
Theis Wins Supreme Court Race
@ WBEZpolitics :
Mary Jane Theis won the Dem primary for IL Supreme Court - defeating Aurelia Pucinski, Joy Cunningham and Thomas Flannigan.
03/20/2012 10:26 PM EDT
Cassidy Wins North Side Primary
@ KateSosin :
Cassidy wins 14th District Race http://t.co/LWkd4jY1
03/20/2012 10:25 PM EDT
Watkins Declares Victory
@ moniquegarcia :
@RayLong reports Patricia Van Pelt Watkins has declared victory over Sen. Annazette Collins. Watkins has 54%, Collins 46% w/ 90% tallied.
03/20/2012 10:22 PM EDT
Jackson Fends Off Halvorson's Primary Challenge
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) jumped out to an early lead over his 2nd Congressional District primary challenger Debbie Halvorson and never looked back Tuesday evening.
The Associated Press called the race for Jackson.
Halvorson conceded the race to Jackson just before 9 p.m. CDT, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Read the whole story here.
03/20/2012 10:11 PM EDT
Pankau Up Over Ramey
@ moniquegarcia :
#ILprimary update: Sen. Carole Pankau leads Rep. Randy Ramey 56 percent to 43 percent with 40 percent of votes tallied.
03/20/2012 10:03 PM EDT
Duckworth Still Leading
Patch reports that Iraq War vet Tammy Duckworth is poised to win the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 8th district to oppose Rep. Joe Walsh (R). Here is a picture from Duckworth's victory party.
Illinois races to watch