Tom Kacich: Ammons opposes consolidation of polling places

Tom Kacich: Ammons opposes consolidation of polling places

Although Democratic county clerk candidate Aaron Ammons was mostly complimentary of the operation of the office under Republican Gordy Hulten, he said he would reverse Hulten's stance on consolidating campus-area polling places for municipal elections.

Earlier this year, Hulten attempted to merge historically low-turnout campus-area polling places into one central spot for the April election. After first supporting the idea, the county board reversed itself and voted to keep every campus area polling place open. Hulten estimated that consolidating them would save the county about $10,000.

Ammons said he would first try to boost turnout at the campus area precincts (even though they averaged fewer than 20 votes on Election Day in April) before consolidating them.

"When it comes to consolidating polling locations, I believe that if the polling locations don't have the type of turnout that is necessary, I think there is an opportunity there to increase the turnout," Ammons said.

"It would have to be an absolute last resort for me to close a polling location," Ammons said. "I look at that, and how to increase that turnout would be the objective for me first, before I started consolidating polling places."

But Matt Grandone, who works in the county clerk's office and is the only announced Republican candidate to replace Hulten in next year's election, said he would stand by the decision to consolidate in low-interest elections.

"This time around we saw the numbers, and they were where we thought they would be, based on what we did in '13 and '15. It reinforced the opinion that that is a reasonable time and a reasonable expectation to consolidate polling places," said Grandone. "I understand people's hesitation when they start hearing things like consolidating and offering less options, but I think that's one where the evidence points to it being OK, it being a reasonable time to save some taxpayer dollars."

The seven campus-area precincts that Hulten had hoped to consolidate into one served a total of 132 voters on April 4.

Petition passing begins

Tuesday was the first day that candidates could begin passing petitions to get on the March primary election ballot. Petitions have to be filed between Nov. 27 and Dec. 4.

Races in the area that so far are attracting the greatest interest are the Democratic contests for Congress in the 13th District (now represented by Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville) and the 15th District (now represented by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville) and the Republican contest in the 101st Illinois House District, where incumbent Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forysth, is retiring.

There are five announced Democratic candidates for Davis' seat, four announced Democratic candidates for Shimkus' seat and six announced Republican candidates for Mitchell's seat.

Here are the signature requirements in those districts:

— Democratic candidates in the 13th District need at least 748 signatures, while Republicans need 788. But an independent or new party candidate needs 16,421.

— Democratic candidates in the 15th District need at least 523 signatures, while Republicans need at least 1,373. An independent or new party candidate needs 16,377.

— Republican or Democratic candidates in the 101st Illinois House District need between 500 and 1,500 signatures on petitions. Independent or new party candidates need at least 2,864 signatures.

Democratic petitions

Champaign County Democrats will present a brief training session from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday on the correct process for gathering candidate petitions.

The meeting will be at the Democratic Party headquarters, 110 S. Neil St., Champaign. Pizza will be provided.

Grandone campaign

Grandone, the first Republican contender for county clerk in next year's election, filed his statement of organization with the State Board of Elections last Thursday. He reported having $100 in his campaign fund, and that his father, Eugene Grandone, would be his campaign treasurer.

Local president?

Linda Yoakum, an aide to U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, has been nominated for president of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women.

Yoakum was nominated for the top position by a committee that conducted interviews last month during the state fair. If elected in October at the group's biennial convention in Springfield, she would serve a two-year term, helping to oversee and provide guidance to local Republican women's groups around the state, she said.

Tom Kacich is a News-Gazette reporters and columnist. His column appears on Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 217-351-5221 or at kacich@news-gazette.com.

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