The voting to elect the next president of the Teamsters Union drew to a close on Friday with a bit more than 20 percent of the union's 1.3 million members casting ballots.
According to unofficial estimates, about 238,000 ballots had been submitted as of Nov. 9. A union official close to the situation predicted that, in all, 245,000 ballots will have been cast by the time officials begin tabulating the results on Monday. The process is expected to stretch over three days, with the results expected to be announced either Thursday or Friday, according to the official.
The race pits incumbent James P. Hoffa, who is seeking his third term, against Alexandra (Sandy) Pope, head of Teamster Local 805, and Fred W. Gegare, who is chairman of the board of trustees of the union's influential Central States pension fund, among other positions. Pope and Gegare each have more than 30 years' experience in the Teamsters. If Pope wins, she will become the first female Teamster president in the union's 108-year history.
The turnout did not surprise election observers, who noted that roughly the same percentage of members cast ballots in the last presidential election in 2006. Ken Paff, the national organizer of the dissident group Teamsters for a Democratic Union, said the fact that nearly a quarter of a million Teamsters actually voted "is a lot of participation."
Paff added that no one expected the turnout to be in the 80- to 90-percent range. He noted that only about half of all registered voters cast ballots in elections to choose the next president of the United States.