Press Release: County Clerk Announces Sample Ballots Available for General Election

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 20, 2012

Contact: Gordy Hulten (217.384.3720)

County Clerk Announces Sample Ballots Available for General Election

URBANA, IL – Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten announced today that sample ballots are now available for the November 6 General Election.

“Sample ballots are a useful tool for voters to begin educating themselves about districts, candidates and referenda on which they will be voting,” said Hulten.  “Especially in this first election after redistricting, voters who are unfamiliar with new districts and candidates can get an early feel for the decisions that they will make when voting.”

Sample ballots are available online at www.champaigncountyclerk.com. Voters should use the link titled, “Check Your Voter Registration Status” to access their individual sample ballot as well as information about their voting districts, polling place, and early voting information including options for early voting locations.  Sample ballots are also available at the office of Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten.

Voters with questions may contact Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten at 217-384-3724, or by email at mail@champaigncountyclerk.com.

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Township Ballot Questions

From a statement released a few minutes ago:

URBANA, IL – Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten today announced that despite formatting improprieties, one advisory question will appear on the November 6, 2012 General Election ballot for City of Champaign Township voters and two advisory questions will appear on the ballot for Cunningham Township voters.

            The referenda, as submitted by electors at their respective Township’s Annual Meetings, are problematic because they don’t conform to the requirements of the Election Code of Illinois.  Specifically, the referenda are not phrased as questions but rather as a series of editorial statements, and do not lend themselves to the standard ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses required for ballot questions, as required by 10 ILCS 5/16-7.  When the questions were ratified by their respective Township Boards last month, the issue of non-conformity was raised.

“While responsibility as the Election Authority for Champaign County includes the ability to reject non-conforming ballot questions, in the end we decided that these particular non-binding, advisory referenda posed no significant threat to the integrity of the ballot as a whole, or to the election process,” said Hulten. “Therefore, in the interest of increased ballot access and the general principle of letting voters decide, the referenda will appear on the ballot.”

 

New Voter Registration Partnerships Announced

This afternoon, we announced a series of new voter registration partnerships with property managers in Champaign-Urbana. New residents will find a voter registration form along with an informational letter about the voter registration process in welcome packets given out at apartment buildings and houses managed by the following property managers:

• Bankier Apartments                • JSM Apartments

•The Village at Colbert Park    • One North and One South

• Ramshaw Real Estate          • Wampler Property Management

• Roland Realty                          • Indigo Place

• Armory House                          • Campus Property Management

• Burnham 310                           • Green Street Realty

• The Pointe

By including voter registration forms and instructions in welcome packets, many of our area’s residents who live in apartments will have a great opportunity to register to vote for the first time or change their voter registration address in a convenient manner.  Our community has a high proportion of renters and residents who move frequently. With so many people interested in participating in the important November 6 election,it is important to registration as convenient as possible so that it’s done properly.

Other property managers with questions or who are interested in participating in this new voter registration partnership should contact us at 217-384-3724 or email mail@champaigncountyclerk.com.

Voter Registration Drives Held at Local Libraries this Summer

This summer we are holding voter registration drives at libraries throughout the county.Voter registration is the critical first step towards a person exercising their right to vote. At these events, voters will be able to register as new voters, or update their registration if they’ve recently moved or changed their name. Proper registration will ensure their eligibility to vote at future elections, and that’s one key to increasing voter turnout.

Dates and Locations:

 

June 20, 2012 4-8pm                                                              July 12, 2012, 10am-12pm

Mahomet Public Library                                                            Philo Public Library

1702 East Oak Street                                                               115 East Washington

Mahomet, IL 61853                                                                   Philo, IL 61864

 

July 9, 2012, 9am-12pm                                                           July 15, 2012, 1-4pm

Tolono Public Library                                                                 Rantoul Public Library

111 East Main Street                                                                  106 West Flessner Avenue

Tolono, IL 61880                                                                         Rantoul, IL 61866

 

July 10, 2012, 5-7pm                                                                  July 16, 2012, 5-8pm

Homer Community Library                                                         St. Joseph Township-Swearingen Memorial Library

500 E. Second Street                                                                  201 North 3rd Street

Homer, IL 61849                                                                          St. Joseph, IL 61873

 

For more information or questions regarding theses and voter registration please contact the Champaign County Clerk’s office at (217) 384-3720, email champaigncountyclerk.com or visit www.champaigncountyclerk.com.

New Early Voting Locations

This morning, we announced plans to conduct Early Voting at eight locations in Champaign County for the November 6, 2012, General Election.  This blog post will echo a Memo prepared to update our Champaign County Board on the topic, and is intended to provide some background information on Early Voting, its history in Champaign County, summarizes our priorities in planning for November’s election and attempts to answer anticipated questions.  The attached documents are:

  • Table 1 indicating the seven new Early Voting locations and the precincts available at each location.
  • Table 2 indicating each of Champaign County’s 118 precincts and the Early Voting locations that will be available to the voters in each precinct.
  • Map Set 1 indicating the geographic area of the precincts available at each of the seven new Early Voting locations.

Early Voting was first implemented in Illinois for the 2006 General Election.  Other than a pilot program in November 2010 on the University of Illinois Campus (in compliance with a now-expired state mandate), Early Voting in Champaign County has only been available at the Champaign County Clerk’s Office at the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana.  Other Illinois Election Authorities have offered Early Voting at multiple locations other than the Office of the Election Authority, and have seen significantly higher Early Voting participation rates.

For example, Madison County, which offers Early Voting at 10 locations other than the County Clerk’s Office, has an Early Voting rate that roughly doubles Champaign County.  For the 2008 General Election, almost 21 percent of the total votes cast in Madison County were early votes.  For the same election, about eight percent of total votes cast in Champaign County were early votes.

At a fundamental level, voting is the act of individuals exercising choices.  The exercising of a voter’s choice is most often considered in the context of choosing the candidates and referenda for whom or for which they wish to vote.  However, Illinois Election Law now allows for voters to choose not only for whom they will vote, but often the timing, location and method of voting.

Our plan for the November 6, 2012 General Election will greatly expand voters’ choices in the timing, location and method of voting and we believe this is a logical extension of the services we should provide to voters in Champaign County.

For the November 6, 2012 General Election, in accordance with 10 ILCS 5/19A-20, for the first time we will offer Early Voting at seven locations in Champaign County in addition to the County Clerk’s Office.  These seven new locations have been chosen to comply with the legal requirements governing Early Voting, in accordance with our standards for security and accessibility, and with an emphasis on convenience and fairness to the voters of Champaign County.

Under 10 ILCS 5/19A-20, “the election authority may establish temporary branch polling places for early voting.”  At these “temporary” early voting sites, we do not have to have all ballot styles available, the schedules do not need to be uniform nor are we required to offer early voting for the full period.  Our plan is to accommodate voters from up to 20 proximal precincts at each new Early Voting location.  Champaign County uses ES&S M100 optical scan tabulators to conduct our Early, Absentee and polling place voting.  Each M100 tabulator can read ballots from up to 10 precincts.  Champaign County purchased an additional 12 M100 Tabulators, enough to handle all precincts in the County, in response to the 2010 Campus Early Voting mandate, and our plan is to distribute those 12 tabulators across the seven new Early Voting locations.  Five of the new locations will receive two M100 Tabulators each and can accommodate up to 20 precincts, and two of the new locations will receive one M100 Tabulator each and can accommodate up to 10 precincts.  Table 1 indicates which precincts will be available at each of the new Early Voting Locations.

In addition, our plan is to offer Early Voting at the seven new locations for nearly the same dates and hours that Early Voting is required at the County Clerk’s Office.  Details are still being finalized due to SB 3722, which is pending legislation that may impact the beginning and ending dates of Early Voting.

For the November 6, 2012 General Election, Early Voting will be available as is our normal practice, at the Champaign County Clerk’s Office at Brookens Administrative Center, 1776 East Washington, in Urbana.  This location will be available to all registered voters in all 118 precincts in Champaign County.

The second location will be located on the University of Illinois Campus, in the Illini Union Room 317, 1401 West Green Street, Urbana.  This location was selected with input from the Illini Union management and University of Illinois Student Government leaders.  This location will be available as an Early Voting location to approximately 22,632 registered voters in the 20 precincts in closest proximity to the UI Campus.  In addition, if SB 3722 is enacted, this location complies with the state’s mandate of an Early Voting location on our public University’s campus that is contained in that legislation.  We are indebted to Sen. Mike Frerichs and Rep. Naomi Jakobsson for their collaboration with us on SB 3722.  The amendments they supported to SB 3722 will allow us to operate all seven of our new Early Voting locations rather than requiring us to use all our available equipment at the UI Campus location.

The third location will be located in North Champaign, at Spalding Recreation Center, 910 North Harris, Champaign.  Spalding Recreation Center is our normal Election Day polling place for City of Champaign 6 and 10, and will be available as an Early Voting location to approximately 23,307 voters in 20 precincts in close proximity.

The fourth location will be located in Southwest Champaign, at Meadowbrook Community Church Room 133, 1902 South Duncan, Champaign.  Meadowbrook Community Church is our normal Election Day polling place for City of Champaign 33, and will be available as an Early Voting location to approximately 25,532 voters in 20 precincts in close proximity.

The fifth location will be in Mahomet, at Grace Church, 800 West Oak, Mahomet.  Grace Church is our normal Election Day polling place for Mahomet 2, and will be available as an Early Voting location to approximately 21,561 voters in 19 precincts in west and northwest Champaign County.

The sixth location will be in Rantoul, at Rantoul Recreation Center, 100 East Flessner, Rantoul.  This Early Voting location will be available to approximately 15,354 voters in 20 precincts in northern Champaign County.

The seventh location will be in St. Joseph, at the St. Joseph Village Annex, 201 Second Street, St. Joseph.  This Early Voting location will be available to approximately 8,370 voters in 10 precincts in eastern Champaign County.

The eighth location will be in Tolono, at the Tolono Public Library, 111 E. Main Street, Tolono.  This Early Voting location will be available to approximately 8,697 voters in 10 precincts in southern Champaign County.

The expense of operating the seven new Early Voting locations has been greatly reduced due to our having purchased the twelve additional M100 tabulators to comply with the 2010 mandate to conduct Early Voting on the UI Campus.  We anticipate our expenses for operating the seven additional locations for the November 6, 2012 General Election to be largely relating to the hiring of Election Judges to staff the new locations.  This expense is manageable within our existing budgetary authority granted by the County Board, and will be more than offset by savings we have realized from in-house ballot printing and other operational improvements.  In addition, we anticipate that widespread use of our seven new Early Voting locations may reduce congestion at Election Day polling places, and we anticipate requiring fewer Election Judges on Election Day as a result.

We will implement this plan for seven new Early Voting locations for the November 6, 2012 General Election.  Post-election, we will evaluate it, make improvements where necessary and if possible we hope to continue to offer Early Voting at all seven new locations for all future countywide elections.

We are excited about this new service we will provide to Champaign County’s voters.  We have been planning this for more than a year and many people have cooperated and should be acknowledged.  First, the staff in the County Clerk’s Office is creative, efficient and responsive.  They have been instrumental in planning and implementing this service.  Other County Departments have been critical as well, especially Administrative Services and Information Technology.  The seven facilities we are using to host our new Early Voting locations are being provided to us at no expense, and we must acknowledge the University of Illinois Illini Union, Champaign Park District, Meadowbrook Community Church, Grace Church, Rantoul Recreation Department, Village of St. Joseph and Tolono Public Library for their generosity and willingness to accommodate us and the voters of Champaign County.  Finally, the collaboration of Sen. Mike Frerichs and Rep. Naomi Jakbosson on SB 3722 has provided us with the legal authority to implement this plan and for that we are grateful.

As the Election Authority can implement this plan under 10 ILCS 5/19A, and because we are seeking no additional budgetary authority, at this time there is no County Board action required.  However, we are aware that this is a subject that has been of considerable interest to both the Board and the public for many years.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss any aspect of this plan, please email me or post in comments here.  Thank you.

Objection: Frank v. Holderfield

In Champaign County, for local candidates seeking nomination or election at the March 20, 2012 Primary, only one objection to nomination papers was filed – that of Stephen Frank vs Stephanie Holderfield, Republican candidate for Circuit Clerk.  The objection alleged that Holderfield, a Republican candidate, had signed a nominating petition for Ben Carlson, a Democratic candidate for Auditor, and thereby invalidated her own nomination papers.  You can read the objection in its entirety here.

The objection was heard by the County Officials Electoral Board, in accordance with 10 ILCS 5/10-8, through 10-10.1.  The Electoral Board is created by statute to hear such objections, and consists of the State’s Attorney, Circuit Clerk and County Clerk as Chair, or their designated representatives.  For this Board, the members were State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, Circuit Clerk’s Supervisor Sandy Romans (as designated by Circuit Clerk Linda Frank) and myself.

The Electoral Board met twice, on December 16, 2011 and January 6, 2012, to consider the issues in the objection.  There was an initial Motion to Recuse from the candidate due to alleged bias of Board Member Romans and myself, which was denied.

I want to share some of the record of the proceedings here for public comment and feedback.

The candidate submitted to the Board both a Response and a Brief, with affidavits from Stephanie Holderfield and Todd Holderfield attached as exhibits.

The objector, in addition to the original objection, submitted a Brief, with five exhibits (A, B, C, D and E).

The Board ruled on a 3-0 vote to deny the objection, and the Board’s Findings are here.

The two court cases referenced by the Findings are Watkins v Burke (1984) and Rosenzweig v State Board of Elections, Hebda (2011).

If you have feedback about the issues in the case, how we heard it, or my role in it, please let me know.  Thank you.

Veteran’s Day: Military & Overseas Ballot Requests for 2012 Now Being Accepted

Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day.  Our office is closed to honor the service and sacrifices of our veterans, which makes possible the very freedoms that allow us to conduct elections and chose our Federal, State and local leaders.

This is also an appropriate time to recognize that those currently serving in our military face unique challenges in voting, and that we have an obligation to make voting as convenient and secure for our soldiers, sailors, and other service members as possible.  The 2012 General Election is now less than one year away, and we are now accepting requests for 2012 absentee ballots from military and overseas voters.

Military and overseas voters can submit a request for an absentee ballot by completing the application available online.   Once completed, the form may be returned to our office by mail, email, or fax.  The form does not need to be notarized.  This form will then be effective for both elections in 2012.

Immediate family members of active duty service members may, in some circumstances, also be able to submit absentee ballot requests on behalf of service members.  Voters or family members with questions may contact us by commenting on this blog post, by calling us at 217-384-3724, or by email at mail@champaigncountyclerk.com.

Thank you again to all our veterans for their service.  Please let us know if there’s anything we can do to facilitate your voting.

Final Results and Post-Election Evaluation

After canvassing today, and after counting 22 additional ballots (16 late-arriving absentees and 6 accepted provisional ballots), we have updated the results from the April 5 Consolidated General Election.  These results are final, have been certified as such and have been transmitted to the State Board of Elections.    We have some tasks remaining for this election, but we have already begun planning for the March 20, 2012 General Primary election.

An important piece of those preparations is a post-election evaluation that we will conduct over the next several weeks.  During an election, we ask election judges, workers, our staff and voters for feedback and suggestions.  We will go through this information as a staff, often in consultation with election judges and election day coordinators, review our procedures, and begin to implement changes almost immediately in some cases.

To assist us in better evaluating our elections administration and to help us improve your voting experience, please let us know your suggestions, ideas and criticisms.  Of course, we’d also like to know if you had a positive experience or want to share a complimentary story about an election judge, worker or our staff.  We’ll include all of these comments with the other information we consider when evaluating how we can serve you better.  You can share your feedback here in comments, by calling us (384-3724), by email, on Facebook or Twitter.

Thank you.

Retabulation Completed for Consolidated General Election

In accordance with 10 ILCS 5/24B-15, we conducted our state-mandated retabulation this morning.  Retabulation is a post-election verification of the results we reported on election night.  After each election, the Illinois State Board of Elections randomly selects five percent of Champaign County’s precincts (usually six of our 117 precincts) for retabulation.  It is open to the public and media, and the leaders of the Democratic, Green and Republican Parties are invited.  Retabulation consists of re-testing the tabulators used in each precinct polling place on election day, verifying the test results, and then re-scanning and tabulating all of the early/absentee ballots that were cast in our office, and all of the ballots that were cast in the precinct on election day.  We check to ensure that the total number of ballots cast is the same on election day and on retabulation day.  We also perform a hand count of one race in each of the six precincts, with each established party choosing the race to hand count in two precincts.  Retabulation verifies that counting the same ballots in the same tabulator a second time gives the same results.

The precincts selected by the State Board for retabulation after the April 5, 2011 Consolidated General Election were  Ayers, City of Champaign 35, Cunningham 23, Mahomet 1, Mahomet 3 and Sadorus Ivesdale.  You can view the retabulation results here.

In five of the six precincts, the results of our retabulation and hand count exactly matched the unofficial results we reported on election night.  In Mahomet 3, as you can see here, we had two early/absentee ballots that had been correctly tabulated at the office but that could not be correctly tabulated by the machine in the precinct.  These ballots were counted and reported on election night, but because of how they were marked (with Xs in one case, with pencil in the other) the precinct tabulator would not read them.  We copied the ballots, explained the issue, and included them with our report to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

We will count late-arriving absentee ballots and accepted provisional ballots on Tuesday, April 19 for our final canvass.  After those results are included in our totals from election night, our results will be final and official.