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What is a mega-precinct and how will one work on Election Day?

Stock image/Photo by Ethan Miller
Stock image/Photo by Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

The term “mega-precinct” has been thrown around more this year than in past election seasons, given the emphasis many are putting on voter turnout and restrictions created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Around the country, mega-precincts are likely to have a significant impact on how people vote come Nov. 3.

Visit your local election websites to see if you have any mega-precincts in your community.

What exactly is a mega-precinct?

A mega-precinct is a place where other smaller voting sites are combined into one location. If a mega-precinct is available, that means voters can cast their ballots on Election Day at any precinct in the jurisdiction, regardless of their home address. Voters can sign in, and vote and place ballots at any machine, as opposed to waiting in line to vote at a specific machine in a specific precinct.

What are the benefits of mega-precincts?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there a few possible advantages:

  • There’s a chance for better voter convenience. For example, if a voter has trouble getting to his or her usual precinct because their work location is farther away, having a a mega-precinct closer to that work location could make it easier to vote. In addition, groups of people in the same jurisdiction who are friends or family but who don’t have the same voting location can vote together at a mega-precinct.
  • Financial savings. Expenses on Election Day can be reduced with fewer locations to staff.
  • Increased turnout. With better voter convenience, more people might be motivated to vote.

What are the drawbacks of mega-precincts?

Here are some potential negatives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

  • More reliance on new technology. Mega-precincts must use touch-screen machines that need to be reset for each voter or “print-on-demand” equipment. If there’s a breakdown or malfunction, there could be issues.
  • The word of a switch might not get out. The creation of mega-precincts must be well-publicized so people know they can’t go vote at their usual polling place.
  • Tradition. Voters might simply like the experience of voting at a smaller location such as a school or church.

Big arenas and stadiums will play host to mega-precincts around the country

In July, LeBron James and the voting rights group he formed announced a push to have NBA arenas around the country serving as mega-precinct locations.

There will be 19 NBA arenas turned into voting locations on Election Day, as well as the practice facility of the Detroit Pistons. For a full list of NBA arenas that will be used on Election Day, according to NBA.com, click or tap here.

In addition, some NFL and Major League Baseball stadiums will also be used as voting locations.

For a list, provided by Sports Illustrated, click or tap here.


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