Polling places pop up on campus for upcoming election

As the upcoming Nov. 2 election lingers right around the corner, early voting polling places have sprung up around the campus community.

Sasha Green, who works in the tax services department at the Champaign County Clerk’s office, said five people voted on Friday at the 700 S. Gregory Street location. A little under 90 people have already voted at this specific polling place by Friday.

“I hope that we have a lot of people,” Green said. “It usually gets a little busier once we get closer to the election, and people kind of realize that they may need to early vote because they might not be around on election day. It might be more convenient.”

While there have not been any downsides to the location of this particular polling place, Green added that the available parking is one of the major benefits for voters.

“For parking, I think it’s great. As you can see, there’s always parking,” Green said. “It does get a little bit busier, of course, during lunch time, because there are so many restaurants located here on the strip. But still every day that we’ve been here … there’s been available parking.”

This polling place for early voters along Gregory Street opened its doors Oct. 11 and will remain open for the public until Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Mark Shelden, Champaign County Clerk, said there are difficulties associated with maintaining another polling location, such as the Illini Union, with relatively few staff members.

“For our office, it’s a real challenge at a time when we have reduced staffing to put another location out there,” he said. “We’re just making the best of the situation that’s difficult for us.”

Not only would another location be difficult to maintain, but Shelden said he wanted the polling site to be separate from the campus’s political campaigning.

The challenges of parking was another factor that played into the mix of picking polling sites.

“When it comes to people in the community, (the Illini Union) wasn’t a good location to drive to,” he added.

Shelden said driving down Green Street is problematic for community voters because drivers have to maneuver around pedestrian traffic.

Some University students, however, said they would have found the Illini Union more of an accommodating location.

Jessica Johnsey, sophomore in AHS, said she will be voting in this upcoming election, but she was not aware of the polling site at 700 S. Gregory Street. Johnsey suggested the polling spot should have been closer to campus, preferably on the quad.

“It’s (the Illini Union), a place where a lot of people go,” Johnsey said. “It would get more attention.”

Andrew Weisheit, graduate student, said he has already voted early at the 700 S. Gregory Street location. He described the specific spot as an “unfinished storefront,” yet it was fine. It seemed less busy and less crowded, he added. Weisheit advocated for students to get involved in politics and to vote early for this upcoming election.

“I think that people in school use the excuse ‘Oh, I’m so busy’ to not get involved in politics,” he said.

Going out to vote is the most important role University students can play, Green said.

“It’s my first year being able to vote,” Johnsey said. “So I want to get my voice heard.”