By Katie Chambers
Aurora University will serve as one of the city’s polling places for the upcoming election season. The next election in Illinois is the general primary election on March 20, 2012, allowing students registered with an on-campus address and surrounding Aurora residents the option to cast ballots at Aurora University from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Polling will take place in the lobby of Perry Theatre for the primary election, but will move to its official home in the University’s Banquet Hall (UBH) after that. “An event was already scheduled to be in the UBH the same day as the primary elections,” said Amy Manion, who assists students interested in voting and voter registration.
“Convenience is always a huge factor on Election Day,” said Linda Aloisio, Director of University Events, “if students are registered here on campus then they don’t have to go anywhere.”
Three precincts in the 4th Ward are now able to cast ballots at AU, which applies to students who registered with their on-campus address. In the past, students had to travel 12 blocks from campus to cast their ballots.
“I would vote on campus, but I never knew it was possible,” said junior Tiffany Walz, who lives out of state, “I haven’t been able to vote since I’ve been at school.”
If students are interested in registering with their on-campus address stop by the Phillips Library with two forms of ID. In Illinois, voters must be registered 30 days prior to the Election Day. The deadline to register to vote in the next election is February 22, 2012.
“I do my best to raise awareness among the student body, and I try to make myself as available as possible,” said Manion. In the past Manion has worked with certain student groups, such as AU’s political science club, and held voter registration drives.
Back in 2008, Kerby Mickelson, a past AUSA president, was the first to inquire about AU becoming a polling location. Manion contacted the Aurora Election Commission and proposed Mickelson’s idea four years ago.
“They seemed to take a real interest in the idea,” said Manion. An Aurora Election Commission staff member even came out to confirm that the university’s had all the necessary parking, restrooms and wheelchair accessibility.
Although things appeared to be moving smoothly, “the decision was made to not have [AU] be a polling place,” said Manion, “it was disappointing when it happened.” It is still unclear why the Aurora Election Commission’s authorization protocol declined the university four years ago.
On Oct. 24, 2011 “Linda Fechner, the director of the Aurora Election Commission, addressed a letter to Amy Manion to inquire about university’s past request,” said Aloisio. Now, both Perry Theatre’s lobby and the University Banquet Hall can be used as polling locations.
“There are still some details we have to iron out,” said Aloisio but “[Aurora Election Commission] seemed very pleased with accessibilities at AU,” and did not express any parking concerns at the time, but believes they will have a better idea after the general primary election.
If you are registered elsewhere, but would like to register with your on-campus address contact AU’s Deputy Registrar Amy Manion at (630) 844-3848 or firstname.lastname@example.org.