The awful winter weather that dogged the suburbs for months also made the campaign season for local candidates harder than usual as volunteers have had to hammer yard signs into frozen tundra and march through frigid and snowpacked conditions to knock on voters’ doors.
Lake County GOP Chairman Bob Cook said his team has resorted to putting signs in snow banks, since the ground is still frozen. He’s also been wary of sending his volunteers out on treacherous roads.
Wheeling Township Democratic Committeeman Rob Nesvacil said he has shifted to campaigning over the phone and through the mail.
“We have plans to optimize the mail so generally it only takes a day or two to get it into voters’ mailboxes,” Nesvacil said.
In smaller, local elections, candidates and volunteers campaign door-to-door, dropping off information and speaking with potential voters one-on-one. It’s believed the more intimate interaction resonates better with voters for the smaller, less publicized elections.
Cook said in the inclement weather, he and his campaigners aren’t getting out as much as they would have hoped.
“Instead of talking to your neighbors, you just hang (campaign materials) on the door knob,” Cook said.
Republican consultant Collin Corbett said potential voters are more likely to open their doors and talk to campaigners in lousy weather.
Corbett said the U.S. Postal Service has delayed deliveries, and that has been the most frustrating result of the weather for him.
“The post office, which I’m sure is doing their best, has been very very behind with the polar vortex,” he said. “You can’t blame the post office because they’re doing what they can.”
Corbett said cold weather can be a factor in any Illinois election, so suburban candidates shouldn’t be caught off guard.
“Smart campaigns have planned ahead,” he said. “The ones who are the most prepared are pushing for early voting and vote by mail.”
Local officials say those options have been popular this election season.
“Early voting places in town don’t seem to be hindered by (the weather),” said Barrington Township Republican Committeeman Gene Dawson.
“Early voting is probably the easiest thing to do, and I think it’s a convenience for people involved in elections because you don’t have as many people showing up on Election Day.”
County election offices have seen a substantial number of early ballots, either by mail, absentee voting or from early polling places. Early voting ended Saturday.
Cook County Clerk spokeswoman Courtney Greve said more than 24,000 voters had cast early votes as of Thursday.
Lake County Clerk Willard Helander said more than 6,700 early votes had been cast by Thursday.
But Helander said the historically busiest early voting places in Holland Park, Vernon Township and Lake Forest have been uncharacteristically quiet, which may be the result of relatively few Democratic primaries this year.
In McHenry County, Clerk Katherine Schultz said about 3,600 voters had cast ballots early as of Friday morning.
“We’ve been fortunate that the snow we’ve gotten hasn’t affected our office so far,” Schultz said. “We always hope it runs smoothly, but it’s one of those things you just never know.”