Illinois State University students complaining of long lines at the polls last month have a sympathetic ear in a McLean County Board member. During a Finance committee meeting, Erik Rankin echoed Illinois State University students’ frustrations after waiting hours in some cases to vote at the Bone Student Center in last month’s primary.
"I believe wholeheartedly that there's a reasonable expectation that you can show up to a poll, even if you're registering on that same day, and not have to wait in line for three hours," said Rankin, who teaches politics and government at Illinois State.
Several ISU students, both Democrats and Republicans, shared their experiences from primary day. Many claimed the situation was hectic, and the wait was far too long. McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael, who administers polling in the county, countered the students, saying she felt her staff was ready for the amount of people that turned out.
"Quite honestly we felt we were prepared for it, we knew you were going to have a long wait, and I'm not making excuses or apologies, I'm very proud of my staff," said Michael.
Some of the wait was apparently a result of the Same Day Registration Act, which allows voters to register the day of voting and immediately cast their ballots. Michael encouraged would-be voters to pre-register to avoid long lines.
Rankin said other board members had told him they felt Michael handled the situation as best she could. Rankin said the county should work to make improvements for the upcoming general election. He suggested adding election judges and polling places to reduce lines.
ISU students will be able to work toward a solution with McLean County board members during an upcoming special meeting before the school year ends.