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The County of DuPage
Wheaton, Illinois

Consolidation of the DuPage County Election Commission & County Clerk’s Office Senate Bill 1592

***Updated 2/13/2017***

Goal

To create an organizational model that merges the operations and responsibilities of the DuPage County Election Commission with the Office of the County Clerk, eliminating an unnecessary layer of government. This new model will increase efficiency, transparency, and the accountability of elections in DuPage County while maintaining an independent, bi-partisan oversight board that offers public access to the decision-making process regarding election policy.

Background

  • Since 1974, the DuPage County Election Commission has been the election authority for the County. Per state statute, in the absence of an election commission, the elected county clerk serves as the election authority, which is the case throughout Illinois, except for the cities of Aurora, Bloomington, Chicago, Danville, East St. Louis, Galesburg and Rockford that have established municipal election commissions and the one other county election commission (Peoria).
  • The DuPage Election Commission is currently a three-member, bi-partisan panel appointed by the County Board Chairman that includes representatives from the two major political parties (two from the party of the County Board Chairman and one from the other political party).
  • The role of the Election Commission is to ensure accurate, accessible and secure elections throughout the County on behalf of the 615,000 registered voters pursuant to federal and state election laws.
  • The Election Commission currently appoints the Executive Director who oversees a staff of 23 employees who are responsible for administering all aspects of the election process.
  • In recent years, the election process has also changed, in part due to the increases in technology: online voter registration, the expansion of early voting and the ease of voting by mail or absentee ballot have all significantly altered how elections are administered.
  • The number of polling locations has also been significantly reduced in recent years (and the associated costs of judges, equipment, etc.) from more than 700 sites to 254 polling locations currently.
  • The DuPage County Clerk oversees a staff of 19 employees and is responsible for processing vital records requests and for issuing a number of licenses including marriage, civil union, business, liquor, raffle, tobacco, notary and business licenses.
  • Both the County Clerk’s office and the Election Commission experience a high volume of public inquiries on a daily basis. Due to the large number of these customer interactions, the County can merge and cross-train staffs to create greater efficiencies, reduce duplication and administrative costs and enhance customer service.

Proposal

DuPage County is proposing the consolidation of the Election Commission, a separate governmental entity, with the County Clerk. The County Clerk would assume the day-to-day functions of the current Election Commission under a newly created Election Division and a new five-member Board of Election Commissioners would set election policy, conduct public hearings, and receive public comment.

Highlights of Proposed Legislation

  • Authorizes any County Board to establish a five member Board of Election Commissioners within the Office of the County Clerk, with the consent of the County Clerk.
  • Provides that the County Clerk shall serve as Chairman of the Board and the 4 additional Election Commissioners shall represent the two leading established political parties in the state (with 2 commissioners from each of those parties), appointed by the County Board Chairman with the advice and consent of the County Board.
  • Before the County Board Chairman submits nominations to the County Board for approval, he must first consult with elected officials who are members of the two respective political parties to seek their recommendations as to prospective Election Commissioners.
  • Any compensation paid to Election Commissioners shall be set by County Board Ordinance and may be paid either by per diem, per meeting, or on an annual basis. The County Clerk shall receive no additional compensation for serving as Board Chairman.
  • The Election Commission is required to meet at least 10 times annually, and is subject to the Open Meetings Act.
  • The legislation preempts any municipal election authority (for DuPage, the sections of Aurora would remain under the jurisdiction of the county).
  • The Board of Election Commissioners shall also serve as the county’s Electoral Board for the purposes of hearing election challenges.

Benefits

  • Maintains open and transparent public meetings to ensure continued accountability.
  • Places the responsibility of the election process directly under a countywide elected official and expands bi-partisan representation of the Election Commission Board to an equal number representing both political parties.
  • Requires the Election Division to follow the County’s Procurement Code.
  • Continues to build upon the savings already achieved through shared services between the County and the Election Commission ($3 million to date) to include additional savings in the areas of personnel and procurement (an estimated $300,000+).