Urbana early voting location receives first ballots

Champaign+County+residents+vote+at+the+Brookens+Administrative+Center+in+Urbana%2C+IL+on+Sept.+24.+The+voting+location+is+currently+the+only+in+Champaign+County%2C+while+11+more+early+voting+locations+will+open+on+Oct.+18.

Ryan Ash

Champaign County residents vote at the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana, IL on Sept. 24. The voting location is currently the only in Champaign County, while 11 more early voting locations will open on Oct. 18.

By Aliza Majid, Staff Writer

Early voting is underway in Champaign County, and some students are taking advantage. 

Prashant Shankar, senior in Engineering, voted early last week at the gym next to the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana, the only in-person voting location open in Champaign County.

“It was a pretty short line with about a 10-minute wait,” Shankar said. “People were socially distant and it was pretty quick and painless. So I would definitely recommend that people go out to vote early if they do want to vote in person.”

Champaign County has brought COVID-19 safety guidelines at the voting locations this year in order to minimize infections, bringing a distinct new look to the polling places. The first location was moved from the Brookens Administrative Center to the gym to create more space. 

“We’re asking everyone to wear masks when they come in to vote,” Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons said. “We will have disinfectant wipes sprays, enforce social distancing and do all these different components to make sure that everyone stays safe.”

Plexiglass stands between voters and election judges, who are adorned with personal protective equipment. 

The Brookens gym voting location on 1776 E. Washington St. has been open since Sept. 24 and will be open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday until Oct. 18. After that, its hours will extend to 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, along with 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and another 11 early voting locations will open across the county. 

For registered student voters, Ammons encourages them to weigh voting on campus or at their homes.

“Students have the right to vote where they go to school,” Ammons said. “You all pay taxes here, you count as a part of the census here, so you mean money. You have just as much of a right to vote here as anyone else.”

This year, the University Senate has declared Election Day as a holiday for the campus community. This opportunity will allow students to vote without worrying about their classes for the day.

“I think a great thing about making Election Day a holiday is that not only does it give people free time from things that would have otherwise occupied them, but it also raises awareness,” Shankar said. “I think it’s a very good precedent for the future and for potentially implementing a statewide holiday.”

The official day off will not be made up anytime this semester and raises some concern for the academic calendar because some classes may have to adjust to the change.

“I imagine it will throw off some classes. I know I have a senior design weekly meeting on Tuesdays, for example,” Shankar said. “So I definitely can see this being a pain, especially for lab oriented classes.” 

The Champaign County Clerk website has more information about the election period and voting locations for reference.

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