Updates > Infrastructure Investments in Macoupin County, Illinois

Infrastructure Investments in Macoupin County, Illinois

Election offices across the country know the value of their physical real estate. From large rooms to train poll workers before Election Day to the secure storage areas required for things like printed ballots, voting machines or equipment, all of it requires careful planning to make spaces secure and accessible. These spaces are often funded with rare, inconsistent public tax dollars – so rare, in fact, that it requires election administrators to develop retrofitted workarounds to successfully manage local elections on behalf of voters in their jurisdictions.

Having enough space to run an election is an issue facing many election offices and they continue to make do with the limited spaces available to them. A report from The Election Infrastructure Initiative found that the lack of necessary square footage is a common chorus among loca election administrators: 

  • In Washington, a ballot processing center with upwards of 70 employees only has two, single-stalled bathrooms, two-fewer than recommended by the WA Department of Labor.
  • In Utah, a local election office was denied local funding to develop a ballot processing and storage facility forcing an office with limited budget to spend valuable resources often needed for other election expenses. 
  • In California, an old warehouse is in such need of technological and climate control upgrades that election officials have “to be cognizant that people don’t pass out.”

The lack of physically secure, adequate, and modern space is a common infrastructure problem for election offices. The U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is working to help address these overdue infrastructure needs. 

Macoupin County, located in central Illinois, has a population of about 45,000 people. Their priority was creating physical space that would serve multiple election functions. As a Center for Election Excellence, and part of the initial cohort making up the U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence, they received grant funding allowing them to purchase a building for more secure and accessible space to administer elections. 

Like many smaller election offices, Macoupin County knew they needed a physical space that was secure, flexible, and able to serve different purposes at different times. Pete Duncan, the Macoupin County  Clerk, noted how they had outgrown the existing space. “We’ve run out of space in general but the big thing was there simply was no real secure storage space for our voting machines and ballots – two things that absolutely need to be secured – and the space became difficult to manage when we needed to add in-person voting to already overcrowded, unsecured space.” 

The $500,000 grant will be used to purchase and update the new building. Conveniently located directly across from the county courthouse, it will serve as a secure location for equipment as well as allow for an independently accessible space for early voting. The building will be more accessible for those with mobility challenges too, something many older election offices struggle to provide. 

Duncan has received positive feedback about the plans for this new expansion. “The county board likes the idea and many of those former candidates who’ve had competitive races over the past many years like it simply because it will make voting in person and early voting easier and more secure.”

“I’m most looking forward to knowing that nothing can happen to the tabulators without us knowing about where they are and who has access to them and who’s handled them. We’re all looking forward to not having to work on top of each other, especially around bigger elections when things get a little crazy.” 

The U.S. Alliance for Election Excellence is thrilled to be able to support Macoupin County’s election infrastructure upgrade, one that will serve their voters well in years to come.