Illinois counties may soon be able to dissolve their board of election commissioners into the county clerk’s office as part of legislation cosponsored by State Sen. John Curran (R-Downers Grove), which has passed out of both the House and Senate Chambers.
Inspired by DuPage County’s duplicative elective body, House Bill 5123 would eliminate the current DuPage County Election Commission and replace it with one that falls under the County Clerk.
“DuPage County is one of the only counties in the state with an election board as a separate entity,” said Curran. “By consolidating the DuPage County Election Board and County Clerk’s office, we’ll be able to administer our election process more efficiently and cost-effectively.”
Statewide, 100 out of 102 county clerk’s currently administer local elections except for DuPage County and Peoria County, which have an appointed county election commission. There are also six municipal election commissions for voters who reside in Bloomington, Chicago, Danville, East St. Louis, Galesburg and Rockford.
“The Election Commission has a staff of 23 employees and the County Clerk has 19. The research points to so many potential benefits of this consolidation; it would reduce the duplication that’s happening now, and it would save administrative costs by cross-training the employees,” said Curran.
Additionally, due to rapid changes in technology, the administration of elections requires less full-time and year-round election personnel. With the incorporation of online and automatic voter registration, the expansion of early voting, access to absentee ballots, and the reduction in the number of polling locations across the county (which DuPage County decreased from 700 plus to fewer than 300 locations), there is less need for as many employees.
During his service as a former DuPage County Board Member, and recently in the Senate, Curran worked with the DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin to advocate for the legislation.
“This is great news. I’m gratified that we will be able to provide DuPage County voters with more efficient, effective election services,” said Chairman Cronin. “I want to thank the legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, for their unanimous support of our legislation. They understood the will of the voters to give our County Board the authority to fold the election commission duties into the work of the County Clerk, as it is in 100 other counties. I know both Election Commission Chairwoman Cathy Ficker Terrill and County Clerk Paul Hinds will work together to ensure a smooth transition next year. We encourage Governor Rauner to sign this bill as soon as it arrives on his desk.”
Passed by the House of Representatives on April 18 and by the Senate on May 18, House Bill 5123 now moves to the Governor’s desk for a signature for enactment.