Polling places to change for 10% of Champaign County voters

Polling places to change for 10% of Champaign County voters

URBANA — Almost 10 percent of Champaign County voters will be casting their ballots at a different polling place next March 20 and Nov. 6, according to County Clerk Gordy Hulten.

The Champaign County Board earlier this month approved a revised listing of polling places that will go into effect with the March primary election.

"Under this proposed plan for polling places for 2012, the overwhelming majority of voters in Champaign County will experience no change," Hulten said in a memo to the county board. "In those instances where we are recommending a change, we can minimize the disruption through voter education, and the disruption is more than offset by the increased convenience in proximity, efficiency and reduced voter load, especially as we plan for the 2012 general election."

He said his election administration budget is slightly less than it was for the last presidential election in 2008, but "we can do things. I don't anticipate we'll have to go back to the county board and say that we'll need more money unless there's some strange new mandate that comes down and forces us to do something new."

Hulten said the clerk's office will save money this year by printing ballots in-house, through reduced costs on newspaper notices and by not having to buy new equipment.

Even so, he said, the county will have 101 polling places — up from 96 — and is planning to have more extensive opportunities for early voting before the November election. In 2008, early voting was held only at the county clerk's office and at a storefront near the University of Illinois campus, as required by a state law.

That state mandate has expired, he said, "and I'm hopeful after a number of conversations with our legislators that it won't come back. I think one of the reasons it won't come back is that we have shared what we would like to do in terms of off-site early voting. We have made the argument to please let us see what we can get done on our own without a mandate."

Hulten not only hopes to have early voting sites at Brookens and on campus but also at several other locations.

"For November, we are bouncing around various ideas and are thinking about how many locations do we want to do," Hulten said. "We want to come up with a plan that serves the citizens of Champaign County most effectively, given the turnout we think we're going to see in November."

The county's record turnout — 84,804 — came in the 2008 general election, and Hulten said he anticipates another record in November.

"Champaign County continues to grow," he said, "and I don't feel that deep political awareness and energy, and this is strictly my intuition, had dissipated on either side. I expect that we'll have somewhere in the neighborhood of an 85,000-vote range that we had in 2008. We have to plan on Obama's record turnout coming out and the turnout on the Republican side being just as intense."

Changes in county polling places in 2012 — affecting about 11,500 out of the approximately 125,000 registered voters in the county — include the following precincts:

— Brown-Fisher and Brown-Foosland precincts in northwestern Champaign County now will vote at Fisher's new community building, a newer facility that can easily accommodate the estimated 900 voters in the recently consolidated precinct.

— Champaign 3 in a growing area between Duncan and Staley roads in west Champaign now will vote at the Bible Baptist Church, 4001 W. Kirby Ave., C. This change affects about 1,500 voters.

— Champaign 5, comprising portions of three old precincts in south Champaign and Savoy, will vote at the Curtis Road Church of God. The change affects about 1,250 voters.

— City of Champaign 8, a campus area precinct that for years had voted at the UI Rehabilitation Center on Oak Street, is being moved to the Activities and Recreation Center at 201 E. Peabody Drive, C. The move affects as many as 500 voters, most of them UI students.

— City of Champaign 38 includes large portions of southwest Champaign where many voters had used the Meadowbrook Community Church on Duncan Road. The polling place, including about 1,250 voters, is being moved to Windsor Road Christian Church.

— City of Champaign 39, a new precinct for areas west of Interstate 57 and south of Kirby Avenue, will vote at First Christian Church, 3601 S. Staley Road. C.

— Cunningham 19 in east Urbana now will vote at the gymnasium of the Brookens Administrative Center, 1776 E. Washington St., U. Those voters had voted at the Sunnycrest Mall along with Cunningham 20 voters, who will continue to cast their ballots at the mall. Together, the two precincts had about 2,000 voters.

— St. Joseph 3 is a new precinct created because of population growth in the St. Joseph area. Those approximately 750 voters will cast ballots at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 802 E. Douglas St.

— Tolono 2, the northern half of Tolono Township, had voted at the Savoy Recreation Center along with voters in Champaign 4. Together, the precincts accounted for more than 2,500 voters. Tolono 2 voters now will cast ballots at the Savoy Municipal Building, 611 N. Dunlap Ave.

All registered voters in the county should get new voter identification cards by the middle of January, Hulten said.

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Tags (1):Election 2012