Will County Cuts Polling Places, Maybe Saves $200K
The board on Thursday voted to cut the number of polling places countywide from 445 to 303.
The Will County Board is hoping the new map of polling places will keep voting local yet save $200,000.
By a unanimous 27-0 vote, the Will County Board on Thursday approved a new map for voting precincts throughout the county. The board does this every 10 years based on new census data, but what’s different this year is the number of polling places dropped from 445 to 303.
Having fewer election judges, field technicians and voting machines could save up to $200,000, Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said. It will, however, mean each polling place will have 1,200 to 1,300 people registered there.
Voots said there are more than 67 polling places currently that large and they have no problem handling election-day crowds. The reason, she said, is that even the registered voters who vote aren’t all doing so on election day.
“The only reason that I’m able to do this is because more people are able to take advantage of early voting,” Voots said.
Cory Singer, a District 1 board member from Frankfort, praised the new map.
“The clerk did a very good job keeping neighborhoods and parts of communities together,” Singer said. “I don’t know of any neighborhoods in Mokena or Frankfort where they were divided.”
But people will still have to learn new polling places. And, as all districts from the county board to the U.S. Congress are redrawn every 10 years, Will County residents have a lot of new districts to learn. The Will County Board went from nine to 13 districts in the latest shuffle.
“They don’t have much to worry about because all the registered voters in Will County will be receiving a new voter card (with their new polling place listed),” Voots said. “Right before the election, I’ve been sending out a voters guide (with maps of new districts).”
Tom Weigel, a District 2 board member from New Lenox, said residents know their communities enough that they will be able to find their new polling places. His own polling place, for example, moved from Cherry Hill School in New Lenox to Cherry Hill Church of Christ in Joliet, both well-known local landmarks about a half-mile apart.
Singer praised the process that led to the new map.
“It was a good process and I think that’s reflected on the fact that it was supported on a bipartisan basis,” Singer said. “It wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a political process.”
What has been a political process is the state redistricting of U.S. congressional lines. The GOP has filed a lawsuit against the map created by the Democrat-led General Assembly.
The results of that lawsuit could quash a lot of Voots’ plans for the future, including the voter guide and possibly even the precinct lines approved Thursday.
“That’s my concern because it’s still in the courts,” Voots said. “If they decide to change something we would have to redo everything connected with the congressional.”