CHAMPAIGN — Illinois Republicans have the chance to vote in a presidential straw poll this week, either in person or online, but it will cost them.
In Champaign County, Republicans can vote from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the party's new headquarters at 2101 Windsor Place, just west of the First State Bank at Windsor Road and Neil Street. Or they can vote online a http://www.illinoisstrawpoll.com , from now through 7 p.m. Saturday.
Either way, though, it will cost a minimum of $5. Proceeds from the straw poll in Champaign County will be split 50-50 between the state party and the local party, said Kristin Williamson, vice chair of communications for the Champaign County GOP.
Eight candidates are listed on the presidential straw poll: Michele Bachman, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, John Huntsman Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum.
Williamson said no particular presidential candidate seems to have a lock on Champaign County Republicans.
"It seems to be a pretty wide-open race at this point," she said. "I guess I would be surprised by whoever wins it."
According to the website OpenSecrets.org, though, Romney is the runaway winner in campaign contributions from donors in the Champaign-Urbana area in this election cycle.
Through Oct. 31 he has received $46,250 to $4,059 for Paul, $2,250 for Bachmann, and $250 each for Huntsman and Cain.
President Obama has received $44,185 in campaign contributions from Champaign-Urbana donors in this cycle.
If they choose to vote at the party headquarters on Saturday, local Republicans also will have a chance to meet GOP candidates and local officials, Williamson said.
"We're encouraging them to come out Saturday and meet with voters," she said.
"Straw polls in states like Iowa and New Hampshire have been influencing presidential nominations for decades. Now it's Champaign County's and Illinois' turn to weigh in," said Habeeb Habeeb, treasurer of the local party. "We're also excited to officially welcome Republicans to our new headquarters which will serve as our home through the elections."
The Champaign County Republican Party is the only GOP organization in East Central Illinois that is conducting in-person voting Saturday. Others around the state that are doing so include: Bureau, Cook, DuPage, Henry, Jo Daviess, Kane, Lake LaSalle, Macoupin, Madison, Rock Island, Peoria, Stark, Winnebago and Woodford counties.