Students looking to register to vote and cast their ballot on Election Day at the Holmes Student Center will no longer be able to after DeKalb County Clerk Doug Johnson removed the center as a registration center weeks before the election.
Students on campus trying to register to vote or cast their ballot on Election Day should go to the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center. However, Laura Vazquez, a member of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Steering Committee, said to avoid any confusion students should plan to vote early.
The Holmes Student Center has never been a polling place in a designated precinct, it’s only been an early voting site and those sites don’t get turned into polling places, Johnson said.
“[The Holmes Students Center] was just an added thing we were doing to try and facilitate people, but this year we’ve decided to not use it as a registration center on Election Day,” Johnson said.
He said he’s been meaning to remove the Holmes Student Center as an Election Day registration center for years, but he “finally got around to doing it” this year. Johnson said with the pandemic and election judge staffing, it was redundant to have a registration center at the Holmes Student Center on Election Day.
“I think I’ve done a disservice to the county by adding this extra convenience that isn’t done anywhere else because people get to the point where they figured they didn’t have to do anything and they could just show up to the registration center,” Johnson said.
Johnson said it’s best that voters register at their polling place because that’s how it’s laid out in the Illinois Election Code.
He said the different polling places in each precinct have to be accessible to the people living in that precinct. Johnson said the Holmes Student Center doesn’t have parking for voters on Election Day, but it’s served as a good spot for students to vote early.
Vazquez said by eliminating the Holme Student Center as an Election Day site, it’s going to slow down all of the voters who are in line at other polling places.
“I just want to make sure students don’t think that we don’t want to protect their right to vote,” Vazquez said.
The decision to remove the Holmes Student Center as a registration place comes at a time when more voters are expected to turn out this election than in the 2016 election. An estimated 58.6 million ballots have been cast so far, as of Oct. 25, according to the Associated Press.
Vazquez said there will be student and faculty volunteers at the Holmes Student Center on Election Day helping redirect voters on where they can go to vote.
The League of Women Voters in DeKalb will also offer free bus rides to residents and students who are voting early from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 31 to Nov. 1, according to a Monday news release. The voting bus will leave University Village Apartments, 722 N. Annie Glidden Road, every 20 minutes to go to the NIU early voting site.