At the November County Board meeting, the county’s voting precincts were rebalanced to get to a more equal number of voters by a unanimous, bipartisan vote. Instead of the 61 precincts used in the 2021 Election, the upcoming June 28th Primary Election will see 45 precincts.
Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan, who developed the plan with the County Board, wanted voters to have some important points to remember about these changes.
- Every township will still have at least one precinct and one polling place. Some townships that had more than one precinct will either only have one now or have a reduced number of precincts.
- At the last election, there were 42 polling places through out the county. Beginning with the June 28th primary, there will be 35 polling places. However, only 1,687 registered voters will vote at a different polling place. This means 95% of voters will still go to the same polling place.
- Some voters will see their precinct number change, which means they will have to go to a different table at their polling place.
- Beginning in January all the way through the June primary, there will be multiple ways in which voters affected will receive notice of changes.
- In January, every registered voter will be mailed a new voter registration card. This will have your precinct and polling place listed on it, including any changes.
- At the time new voter registration cards are mailed, the MacoupinVotes website will have the Voter Lookup tool updated to let voters look up their new precinct, polling place, and any other redistricting changes such as state legislative districts or county board districts that affect them.
- In addition to the Voter’s Guide before the June Primary which will list the precincts and polling places as it does every election, there will be a special Guide to Precinct and Polling Place Changes published before the election showing all changes.
- Voters who will be voting in a different polling place will receive a separate letter before the Primary reminding them of their new polling place.
- Every polling place and precinct will have enlarged precinct maps making it easier for those who might not know which precinct they are in to quickly find out on Election Day.
- The average number of registered voters per precinct will increase from 518 to 702. The new amount is still lower that the average in Illinois, 903 voters per precinct, or nationwide, 1,183 voters per precinct.
- There were major discrepancies in how many voters are in each precinct. At the 2021 Election, Brighton 3 had 1,503 voters total in the precinct. Carlinville 4 however only has 166. It isn’t fair to voters in Brighton 3 to potentially have 1,502 other voters that need to vote at the precinct while Carlinville 4 voters only have 165 other voters to deal with. The new map rebalances precincts within townships to remove those discrepancies. For example, Brighton township had an 878 voter difference between it’s largest precinct and smallest. It now has a 114 voter difference. Bunker Hill township had a 481 voter difference while it will now have a 33 voter difference. These new balances make things fairer for voters and election judges.
- In the last twenty years, the County had consolidated precincts from 66 to 61. Four of the five times there was a consolidation, the township with a fewer number of precincts had a higher percentage turnout than the countywide turnout in the next election. In the one consolidation in which the township turnout was lower than the countywide turnout, there was a difference of 3%. Past experience in Macoupin County has shown precinct changes do not dramatically change turnout in Macoupin.
- While most of the townships seeing a change haven’t had any changes in the last fifty years, the number of registered voters has decreased countywide. And the number of voters who aren’t voting at their polling place has grown significantly. In the 2008 Presidential Election, about 1 out of 10 Macoupin voters voted before Election Day and not at their polling place. In the 2020 Presidential Election, 4 out of 10 Macoupin voters didn’t vote at their polling place.
- With less voters utilizing voting at their polling place, the county could have saved just under $50,000 a year the last two years if the precincts had been changed like this before the 2020 Primary Election. There will be significant taxpayer savings each election going forward.
“I understand not everyone likes change,” Duncan said, “but this change will save tax payer money, results in fairer voter experiences around the county, and ensure our elections run smoothly going forward. Most voters aren’t even going to realize a change as happened when they go to vote in June. And for those who do, I will do everything possible with my staff to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible for voters across the county.”