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From now until Saturday, Nov. 3, residents of Mahomet and beyond will have the opportunity to cast their votes early.
For the first time, offsite early voting will be available to Champaign County residents—in the past, early voters' only location for casting their ballots was at Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana.
Four years ago, about 8,500 people voted early in Champaign County. This year, County Clerk Gordy Hulten expects over 20,000 people to vote early.
Mahomet's Grace Church, located on Route 150, will serve as the early voting location for 20 precincts on the west side of the county.
There are seven other early voting sites across the county. Voters can still cast their ballots at Brookens Center as well.
Hulten said that early voting reduces traffic at polling places on Election Day, and makes voting more convenient—increasing turnout numbers among people who otherwise might not have time to vote.
Signs at the church will direct voters to the polling place in the backstage area behind the sanctuary. Voters should enter through the door at the southeast corner of the church.
Voting will be available from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
The expansion of early voting is made possible by a technological upgrade; this year, election judges at all Champaign County polling places will access voter information by laptop instead of using a binder full of paper forms.
"We wouldn't have been able to do this if we didn't have the laptops," Hulten said. Without the new technology, he said, judges would have to sort through more than 20,000 pages of paper forms at the early-voting center, since the location serves 20 precincts.
Mahomet residents Kim Mattingly and Jo Annwozniak will serve as election judges at Grace Church during the early voting period.
"I think it's a good thing," Mattingly said of the early voting. "There are a lot of people who like to vote earlier, but can't make it to Brookens."
The judges also said that the new laptop computers will make their jobs easier.
"It's going to be much better," Annwozniak said.
Potential voters can check their registration status, see a sample ballot and find locations for early voting online at www.champaigncountyclerk.com.