PEKIN, Ill. (WMBD) — Newly awarded grant money to Tazewell County is earmarked for increasing accessibility at polling places, the county clerk announced Thursday.

The Tazewell County Clerk & Recorder of Deeds Office has received over $135,000 in Polling Place Accessibility Grant Funding from the Illinois State Board of Elections. This money will be used to replace the front door of the Tazewell County McKenzie Building and to complete the process of replacing the majority of Tazewell County Voting Booths, said the clerk’s office in a press release.

The McKenzie Building was partially renovated last year with funds from the same grant program, but still needs more work.

“While the main entrance to the McKenzie Building is ADA compliant, the two sets of entrance doors open independent of each other and as a result can ‘pinch’ individuals in wheelchairs and scooters as they are forced to stop midway through the first set of doors to open the second set of doors” stated Tazewell County Clerk John C. Ackerman. “The new doors we will install will automatically open together, thus removing this potential ‘pinch’ hazard.”

Approximately 1/5 of the grant money will be put towards the McKenzie Building renovation. The Tazewell County Board had previously allocated general fund revenue to complete this project, but will now pay for it with grant money rather than taxpayer funding.

The remaining 4/5 of the grant–nearly $100,000–will be used to complete the replacement of Tazewell County Voting Booths at polling locations throughout the county.

“We will be ordering 111 new Voting Booths, which will complete our replacement process almost a decade earlier than planned and without any additional Tazewell County Property Taxpayer cost” said Ackerman. “Now rather than a collection of various styles of Voting Booths spread out across Tazewell County, the overwhelming majority of Tazewell County Voting Booths will be the same model creating uniformity and also will be fully ADA Compliant.”

This project was also previously allocated money from the general fund, but will now be paid for with grant money and require no further funding.

“It should be noted that thanks to this new grant funding, this will reduce over $135,000 of funding from Tazewell County property taxpayers” noted the County Clerk. “My staff has always and will always look for every opportunity to reduce the tax burden for Tazewell County Property Taxpayers.”

The new polling booths are expected to be delivered as early as next week. The McKenzie Building’s door will be replaced as part of a larger window replacement project in spring 2023.