State Farm Center, Memorial Stadium will not serve as voting locations


The Daily Illini File Photo

Signs direct voters outside the polling place at the ARC in MP7 on March 6. The ARC will be the only Illinois athletic facility used as a voting location this November.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

As the COVID-19 pandemic changes the landscape of how the American electorate will cast their ballots come November, vote-by-mail and voting at sports arenas have emerged as ways to help Americans safely cast their ballots.

Professional sports leagues are beginning to open up stadiums as voting locations in the election. Proponents of opening up stadiums as voting locations say that doing so will facilitate physical distancing and stadiums have ample public transportation, making it easy for citizens to vote.

Los Angeles athletes LeBron James and David Price have worked with the Los Angeles Dodgers to open up Dodger Stadium as a polling place in November’s election. James and Price work with More than a Vote, a group working to increase voter turnout and end voter suppression in the Black community.

The NBA announced Friday that the league’s arenas will serve as polling places for the November election. The Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons previously offered up their arenas. Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan are considered swing states this election.

Individual states have also passed legislation to make it easier to vote absentee. Illinois has expanded voting access under new legislation passed in June. Election day is a state holiday in Illinois, and anyone who has voted in the 2018 general election or in any subsequent election will automatically receive a vote-by-mail application in the mail.

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County Clerk Aaron Ammons has encouraged residents to vote by mail in the upcoming election. He says his office anticipates a significant increase in mail-in votes this election, and said it was the safest voting option in the election.

“In the past, I think the most we’ve done is about maybe 7,000 or 8,000 vote-by-mail ballots,” Ammons said. “We anticipate easily anywhere between 35,000 up to 50,000 (to) vote by mail (this year).”

Ammons said some polling places have changed for the November election, but his office isn’t currently considering opening up Memorial Stadium or the State Farm Center as voting locations. The ARC, which has served as a polling place before, is the only athletics facility where people can vote in November.

“At this point, we don’t see the need to do that,” Ammons said. “If there was some sort of drastic situation … we may consider something like that because of the space that it provides. But … my concern is also having large numbers of people (at) one location.”


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