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Voters can now 'Vote Anywhere' in Peoria County

File Photo
Capitol News Illinois

Peoria County voters no longer have to vote at their assigned polling place.

The Peoria County Election Commission’s “Vote Anywhere” initiative allows voters to fill out their ballot at any one of the county’s 55 polling places, regardless of what district they reside in. Elizabeth Gannon, the commission’s executive director, says that this will make voting easier and more accessible this Election Day.

“Now, if you are driving to work or dropping your kids off at daycare and you see a ‘Vote Here’ sign, you can pull in and cast your ballot,” Gannon said. “You do not have to go to that assigned polling place like you did in the past.”

“Vote Anywhere” came to be because of a 2019 Illinois law that allowed the concept of voting centers, or places in Illinois counties where anyone can vote regardless of assigned precinct. It’s also because the polling places in Peoria County now have the equipment to handle it. Each one is outfitted with an on-demand ballot printing system that can print any ballot from any polling location.

This system is pre-loaded with every ballot for Peoria County, regardless of party. When a voter checks in using their name and residential address, it directly prints the right ballot for the voter’s precinct no matter where they are conducting their voting.

With more ballots being cast in more places, Gannon said accessing voting is now easier than ever.

“This is really just about ease and access for the voters,” Gannon said. “Any way that we can encourage someone to get out and vote, we try to do that.”

Gannon said security measures are still in place to prevent duplicate ballots. Bipartisan election judges will verify a voter’s address and compare their signature with the one that’s in the election commission’s database. Once the ballot is cast, the other polling places will update to reflect this vote. It doesn’t matter how you cast your vote – early, by mail or on Election Day – the verification process is the same.

Peoria becomes one of only a handful of Illinois counties that offers the ability to vote anywhere, including Sangamon and DuPage counties. Without an on-demand printing system, Gannon says it’s hard to execute a “Vote Anywhere” program.

“If you think about it, a lot of election jurisdictions you go into a polling place and sitting behind the election judges at the table are just stacks and stacks of pre-printed ballots,” Gannon said. “There’s no way for those election jurisdictions to have a ‘Vote Anywhere’ concept because you would have to have every single ballot at every single polling place.”

“Because of the system we have in place with our on-demand ballot printing system, we have the ability to offer ‘Vote Anywhere’ to our registered voters in Peoria County,” Gannon added.

Election Day is March 19. If you aren’t registered to vote or are unsure if you’re already registered, you can go to the Illinois Elections website.

Mason Klemm is a reporting intern for WCBU. He is studying sports communication at Bradley University and is expected to graduate in May 2024.