Early voting to be limited this spring


Hannah Auten

Early voting signs placed outside of the Illini Union notified students that they could vote early on Oct. 26, 2016. The Illini Union will be the only early voting location as the request to expand locations on campus was denied by Gordy Hulten.

By George Vassilatos, Staff Writer

Activists are calling for more early-voting opportunities on campus; the 2018 state primary elections are during spring break on March 20.

Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to increasing voter turnout and promoting fair elections, released a statement expressing  concerns that miscommunication between the Champaign County Clerk’s Office and the Illinois Student Government will prevent some students from voting in the state primaries.

Earlier this year, ISG passed a set of resolutions supported by Common Cause to increase voter turnout on campus. The resolutions requested administration send out Massmails about upcoming elections, provide voter registration materials and coordinate with the Champaign County Clerk’s office to increase early voting locations.

Although the administration has been working with ISG to implement the resolutions, the Clerk’s office denied the request.

“The Clerk (Gordy Hulten) has claimed that he simply does not have enough time to expand the early voting locations the student government has requested,” said Walter Lindwall, president of the University’s Common Cause, in an email.

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    Trevor Tejeda-Gervais, the Midwest organizing director for Common Cause, said in an email there will only be an early voting location on campus for 22 hours.

    Hulten denied the accusations of limiting access to the ballot. He said polling locations were based on the 2014 primaries, because there were similar offices up for election.

    In 2014, only 190 people voted at the Illini Union, but turnout among students was probably lower because not all voters on campus were students, Hulten said.

    “I think (Common Cause) wants to believe that turnout is gonna be significantly greater for this election, but right now, there is no data to indicate that,” Hulten said. “We are running the same set of locations that we traditionally run for early voting, and we are running the same schedule.”

    Hulten said his office is committed to encouraging turnout, but it has to operate within the budget allocated by the County Board.

    Lindwall said Common Cause asked Hulten to compromise with administration to make early voting locations more accessible, but the office said they didn’t have time to implement any changes.

    “To put it simply, he has both the ability and resources to provide (more early voting) for students and simply isn’t,” Lindwall said.

    Hulten said students who are concerned about the lack of access to early voting stations should vote by mail.

    “You can request a vote-by-mail ballot online through our website, and we will mail the ballot to whatever address you would like us to mail it to,” he said. “It’s easy, it’s convenient and everybody who tries it loves it.”

    Despite disagreements, both Common Cause and the clerk’s office encourage students to vote early by going to Room 213 in the Illini Union March 13-16. The station will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Students can begin voting as early as Feb. 8 by going to the clerk’s office during business hours.

    “Our democracy only works when everyone is represented, and that can only happen when you vote,” Tejeda-Gervais said.

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