After Lengthy Debate, Tazewell County Board Slashes Voter Precincts

Aug 1, 2019

The Tazewell County Board voted Wednesday to cut down on the number of election precincts after a lengthy debate over whether they had the authority to do so under Illinois statute. 

Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman proposed redrawing the current 135 precincts into 109 new precincts, in an effort to save $280,000 in annual costs once the new precinct map is fully in place.

“That savings is coming from a reduction in election judges that we need to have at each of the locations. It’ll also come in the reduction of equipment," said Ackerman. 

A minority report from the county board said 130 fewer election judges would be needed in gubernatorial and presidential election years. 

County board members voted 13-6 to approve the precinct changes after deliberating for over an hour whether or not they have the authority to consolidate under current Illinois law. Language in Illinois law allows for county boards to redraw precincts, but does not expressely mention consolidation. 

But Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said such changes are common as county boards seek to combine lower-population precincts to cut down on expenses, or split precincts up when they exceed an 800-voter maximum threshold set by Illinois statute. 

Boards must vote on the changes during their June or July meetings. 

Ackerman said most voters won’t notice a change. For those that do end up with a different polling place, he said it shouldn't have a big impact. 

“Some will find polling locations that have moved closer to them. Others will find polling locations that are just a little further away, but not much," he said. 

Twelve of 19 township in Tazewell County are affected by the change. Three won't see polling places change, and 76 percent of voters in the remaining nine townships also won't see a polling place shift. 

One non-ADA compliant polling place was eliminated, and a new polling place was created at East Peoria City Hall as part of the shift. 

Ackerman said new voter registration cards will be mailed out by the end of the month.