The Daily Illini

Early voting opens at Illini Union

By Eleanor Black

With one week until the Illinois general primary, the early voting station located in the Illini Union opened Tuesday at 10 a.m. It is one of eight early voting locations in Champaign County and is mandated by law as the campus early voting location, said Gordy Hulten, Champaign County Clerk.

“The nice thing about the early voting location in the Illini Union is that any voter (registered in Champaign County) can vote there no matter where they live,” Hulten said. “So they don’t have to figure out where to vote, they can just go to the Union.”

This applies to all early voting locations, which election judges David “Dutch” Powell, of Champaign, and David Hickman, of Savoy, said has already affected early voting numbers. Last year they had 19 total voters at the Union location for the entire week; by the end of the day Tuesday, they had 39. 

These voters were a mixture of upperclassmen, graduate students, faculty members and other University workers, Powell and Hickman said. Powell added that early voting usually does not see a large number of younger students because they may still be registered in their hometowns.

“Today is surprising; on midterms and primaries you don’t see a lot of voting in general,” Powell said. “You expect the vote to turn out to be well below the 35 percent, which is the average for a presidential election.”

He said voter turnout for midterms and primaries is typically around 15 percent, but he believes this year’s primary may see a higher turnout based on Tuesday’s attendance.

Hulten said that compared to voting on Election Day, voting early has a multitude of benefits.

“If you vote early, you don’t have to worry about something happening on Election Day that could prevent you from voting,” Hulten said. “If there is, for some reason, a problem with your voter registration or a mistake has been made on your voter registration or you need to update some information, if you find that out during early voting there’s probably still time to fix it.”

Both Powell and Hickman said early voting helps lessen the traffic at some polling stations. One big difference when voting early is that identification and address verification is required, Powell said.

One early voter, James Quisenberry, associate director of Housing for Technology Services at the University, said early voting provides convenience benefits. He said some people may not be able to get away from work on Election Day, so having hours the week before, including on Saturday, allows more opportunities for voters.

The Union polling location will be operating from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Friday, and will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“I believe strongly in early voting. I like the idea that voting isn’t based on one particular day. As many people as we can get to vote as possible is good,” he said. “Having this week where anybody can come to the Union and vote is great.”

Four polling places will open on campus for the March 18 primary and will operate from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The location people are able to vote at depends on the address provided when they registered to vote.

Eleanor can be reached at [email protected]

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