Talking sense in Springfield?

Talking sense in Springfield?

Governments at all levels simply cannot afford to ignore opportunities to save taxpayer dollars.

Good luck to Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten in his attempt to sell some common sense to members of the Illinois General Assembly.

He fell short in a similar effort before the Champaign County Board, when he tried to persuade a majority to allow him to consolidate nine low-turnout, university-area polling places for the Feb. 28 primary and April 4 general election.

In a party-line vote — Democrats voting no and Republicans yes — a board majority rejected Hulten's plan to save $10,000 by having a single polling place at the University of Illinois Union instead of staffing four separate ones on primary day and nine for the general elections.

A grand total of 53 voters cast ballots in the Feb. 28 primary in those four precincts, a number that ratified Hulten's argument that consolidation was the wisest, most cost-effective approach.

Hulten, the legislative chairman for the state county clerks association, said he'll be asking legislators to, among other things, make current law more explicitly clear that consolidation is permitted under the appropriate circumstances.

Although the county board had approved similar consolidations in previous elections, some Democrats hid behind the fig leaf of legal complications after the state's attorney's office suggested there might be a problem. The reality is that most were concerned about voter suppression in precincts where there were no votes to suppress.

What a disappointing decision from a board that is under constant financial pressure and, once again, is asking voters to raise taxes in the April 4 election.

Hulten said he does not expect prompt action to be taken. He said that if the General Assembly does act, it will be near the expected May adjournment.

Of course, there are no guarantees the General Assembly will look favorably on this measure. Given the state's financial woes, which were created by the Legislature, it's pretty clear that common sense isn't as common in Springfield as the public would like.

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