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Where Do I Vote?! Lots of Options in Brookings, But One Very Hard to Find

Today's school bond election in Brookings is the first roll-out of new "vote centers" that allow voters to cast their ballot at any polling station in the jurisdiction. This is great (particularly when the Precinct 1 polling station actually resides in Precinct 2)!

However, we Brookings-ites can't allow this new voter openness let us fall asleep at the job of clearly identifying our polling stations. This identification was lackluster at best at my local vote center this afternoon.

My registration card told me my geographically-assigned polling station is First Lutheran Church, which is conveniently on the way from my apartment to my office. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the address on my registration card, I saw nothing at all to indicate an election was taking place at this venerable house of worship (which has earned the irreverent "Touchdown Jesus" nickname for its building-sized boulevard-facing image of Jesus with his arms uplifted). I pulled into the parking lot anyway, certain that I would see some sign of democracy as I parked my car.

From the most visible church entrance, it's a bit of a trip over the boulevard and through the woods (or at least past an awful lot of other doors) to get to Precinct 2 polling location.
From the most visible church entrance, it's a bit of a trip over the boulevard and through the woods (or at least past an awful lot of other doors) to get to the Precinct 2 polling location in Brookings. More signs, please!!

No such luck. After checking a number of doors for a "Vote Here!" invitation, I had to rely on the friendliness of a church administrator to make my way around the building to the humble vote center.

As it turns out, the vote center is on the farthest corner of the church campus from the main entrance (which I'll defend calling the main entrance due to its proximity to [a] the nearest street intersection, [b] the lighted sign identifying the church, and [c] the church's nickname namesake). The sole sign directing would-be voters to the polling station was at a secondary parking lot entrance barely visible from the intersection in front of the church. The sign faced eastward, making it even less visible to those approaching from the west or south through the intersection.

I obviously made it to the polls and cast my ballot like a good citizen of the Brookings School District, but do we really need to make it so hard to find the polling center? Shouldn't our polling places stand out like beacons to citizens wanting to participate in community decisions? Is one little A-frame sign in the boulevard sufficient to get voters to the single door (of probably a dozen around the church) that leads directly to the ballots (especially considering the vote center at Tompkins Alumni Center gets two A-frames for its considerably smaller lot)?

Now, thanks to the "vote center" concept, anyone stymied by poor signage at First Lutheran could vote anywhere else in town with a polling station (again, this is great!). However, Brookings friends, we can—and should—do better to keep the stymieing to a minimum when it comes to people participating in a public vote.


  1. caheidelberger 2013.11.12

    Get your Brookings neighbor Dwaine Chapel on the job. He appreciates the value of good signage.

  2. Robert Klein 2013.11.12

    I agree with your thought. Since I voted at "my" precinct, I didn't need much signage. However I'm not sure I'd know where to find the location at First Lutheran had I decided it was more convenient.

    I thought handling of the processes seemed a bit awkward at my location.

  3. Robert Klein 2013.11.12

    There usually is a large sign at the entrance to the parking lot at our usual location. I don't believe it was there this time. I wonder if that was provided by the county whereas today's election was operated by the school district.

  4. interested party 2013.11.13

    it wasn't until i moved to brookings to go to sdsu that i learned that 'touchdown jesus' had been assigned to that edifice on the north end of main street: we grew up calling it the 'fish church.'

  5. John 2013.11.13

    That is what is wrong with voting centers. They are loaded in areas of high republican turn out and are hidden in dem areas. Voter suppression my friends.

  6. twuecker Post author | 2013.11.13

    Robert Klein, that's a good question that I hadn't really thought about; it could definitely be the difference in who's running the election that led to the lackluster polling place publicity. That also makes sense in the context of the fact that the bond election was held on date other than the "normal" first-Tuesday-after-the-first-Monday-in-November Election Day.

  7. twuecker Post author | 2013.11.13

    John, I'd have to look at voter registration numbers to be able to back up the idea that there's any particular political party slant between the voting centers I observed. Suppression's probably a little strong; everyone working in the vote center was happy to have me vote once I found the place!

  8. Roger Cornelius 2013.11.13

    Not to diminish your problem with voting, but now you can see some of the many obstacles faced by Native Americans living in rural parts of the reservation at election time.

    And, that is with or without voting centers.

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