SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- When you think of a polling location, you typically think of a designated school or church that’s close to home.
The Greene County Clerk’s Office website has an interactive map to find your designated polling location. Just type in your home address, and the map will give you the address of your polling place, operating hours, and if it’s handicap accessible.
But with the addition of central polling locations in Springfield, the Clerk’s Office is making it even more convenient to cast your ballot in person on Election Day.
There are four central polling locations in the city, meaning anyone in Greene County can vote at these locations regardless of your precinct or designated polling place:
- JQH Arena – 685 S John Q Hammons Pkwy
- CU Transit Center – 211 N Main Ave.
- Cox South Hospital – 3801 S National Ave.
- Mercy Hospital – 1235 E Cherokee St.
The central polling location at JQH Arena will likely benefit students and staff who live and work around Missouri State University’s campus. At the same time, the CU Transit Center will be available for anyone who travels or commutes via city busses on Election Day.
At Mercy and Cox, central polling locations will be invaluable to hospital workers, who typically work long shifts.
“Largely, this was a response from our coworkers. We listened to them. A lot of them, as you know, hospitals workers, a lot of them, work a 12-hour shift, 7A to 7P, and for our workers who want to vote and do that conveniently it’s really challenging to try to find someone to cover, to get away, given the hours of their polling locations, get home, get to your designated spot,” says Mercy CAO Erik Frederick.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital staff may also feel more comfortable casting a ballot in their workplace rather than traveling to their designated polling place.
“Even patients that are in the hospital are able and do that, as well as their visitors, folks who don’t want to leave and come back and forth. We are also open to the local community so if we are the nearest convenient central polling location for somebody, they can come here as well,’ says Frederick.
The polling location is right inside the main entrance of Mercy, so voters won’t have to enter past the lobby to cast a ballot. And will have plenty of space for social distancing.
But for those casting a ballot in a local school facility, what will it look like this year?
Springfield Public Schools will not be holding any classes, virtual or in-person on Election Day this year.
Stephan Hall, Chief Communication Officer, says the district strategically planned a Professional Development day for teachers on Election Day to cut down on traffic in the 13 school buildings being used for voting.
At the new Delaware Elementary in Springfield, school officials created a designated space for such occasions. The Community Room has its own entrance and exit so citizens can access the space without entering the rest of the school building.
Principal Stephanie Young says despite the new addition, the November 3rd elections will be held in the Delaware Elementary gym to allow for social distancing.
“On a big election day like our November election, we will have the elections here in this room. But when we designed this building we also added a room called the Community Room,” says Young.
Young says the school still expects to utilize the Community Room for future municipal elections that likely won’t have as high a voter turnout than presidential elections.
“That room is designed for community use. We’ve got three different community groups using it right now and that’s the whole reason it was built. We wanted our school to be a hub for our neighborhood,” says Young.
The room has doors leading to the outside so community members do not have to interrupt school or be near students when entering.