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County clerk expands early voting locations, including ARC

Early+voting+started+at+the+Illini+Union+on+Monday.+Many+campaigns+have+placed+signs+out+front+to+persuade+voters.
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County clerk expands early voting locations, including ARC

Early voting started at the Illini Union on Monday. Many campaigns have placed signs out front to persuade voters.

Early voting started at the Illini Union on Monday. Many campaigns have placed signs out front to persuade voters.

Hannah Auten

Early voting started at the Illini Union on Monday. Many campaigns have placed signs out front to persuade voters.

Hannah Auten

Hannah Auten

Early voting started at the Illini Union on Monday. Many campaigns have placed signs out front to persuade voters.

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten has expanded early voting locations to nine additional places for the Nov. 8 election.

“There’s an enormous amount of demand for early voting in Champaign county, and we wanted to continue to provide locations that folks can take advantage of early voting without having to wait in line,” Hulten said.

On campus, people can now vote at the Illini Union Federal Room in the basement until Nov. 6. Starting Oct. 31, the Activities and Recreation Center will also be an early voting place.

“We wanted another location in a slightly different area of campus to try and spread the load out for people who are interested in early voting and live on campus,” Hulten said.

The decision to increase early voting locations was in response to the demand for early voting last March. Hulten said the goal is to have 30,000 to 40,000 people vote early.

“In March we had significantly more demand for early voting than we anticipated,” Hulten said. “Since this is the highest turnout election that we’ve had, we wanted to be ready.”

Hulten said multiple factors come into play when determining if a location is able to host election polls.

“We look for facilities that are visible, that have enough room for us, that we can take over for two straight weeks and have the security we need,” Hulten said. “(We also look for a place) that is accessible for folks with disabilities, and then we try to spread those locations out in a way that’s geographically diverse.”

According to Activities and Recreation Center event coordinator Andrew Funari, the Champaign County Clerk’s office reached out to the ARC to request the space.

“It’s all been their coordination,” Funari said. “We (only) provide them with the room that they need, tables and chairs.”

All early voting locations are not charging the Champaign County to use their facilities; however, Hulten requested a $100,000 increase in the budget to prepare for the November election overall.

Many students have already utilized the early voting location in the Illini Union basement and cast their ballots.

Alondra Flores, a junior in LAS, said she felt now was a prime time for her to take action.

“I wanted to get it out of the way,” Flores said. “Like I feel like if I don’t vote right now, later I’ll probably get too busy or lazy to come so I think it’s important for me to come right now where I have time.”

Jerome Williams II. is also a junior in LAS. His motivation for early voting came from just walking by the Union.

“Well, actually, I was just walking by and I saw that it was open,” Williams II. said. “I know that on the actual election day, the lines are going to be very, extremely long so I might as well just get it done now.”

Dennis Rich, sophomore in Engineering, said his motivation for voting early is that it’s important to keep the opportunities for voters equal.

“I think it’s important that my vote be counted just as much as a person who has the ability to transport themselves with a car to the polling places and I feel like it’s possibly true that people without a car are underrepresented. So, early voting is a lot easier for me personally,” Rich said. 

Jessica Berbey, Gillian Dunlop and Megan Jones all contributed to this report.

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