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Local News

Will County officials explore proposing changes to election law

Residents of Joliet cast their ballots Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Cantigny Post 367 in Joliet.
Residents of Joliet cast their ballots Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Cantigny Post 367 in Joliet.

The Will County Board Legislative and Policy Committee discussed possible changes they'd like to see made on election law at its meeting on Tuesday.

Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry told committee members her office recently met with Gov. JB Pritzker's office and other clerks from the collar counties about a number of legislative and funding concerns.

Committee Chairwoman Jackie Traynere, D-Bolingbrook, asked Staley Ferry if her office had contacted legislators about changing a legal requirement to preprint enough ballots for 110% of registered voters in the county. In a report written following the 2019 municipal election, Staley Ferry's office said this requirement created "tremendous waste," especially for an election which saw low turnout.

Staley Ferry's chief of staff, Charles B. Pelkie, told the committee the clerk's office was exploring the possibility of getting new equipment which would allow them to print ballots on demand after residents cast their vote on a touchscreen. He said this would reduce the need to preprint ballots.

Last year, the Will County Clerk's Office spent more than $119,000 preprinting 427,015 ballots. Only 13.16% of registered voters turned out to vote, although turnout in presidential election years tends to be much higher.

Traynere also asked Staley Ferry if she was concerned about a requirement for election judges to initial completed ballots for the vote to count. Traynere referenced the 2019 Valley View School District Board of Education election in which a losing candidate successfully challenged the results. A judge ruled some votes in that race were invalid because they weren't initialed which resulted in the winner being removed from the board nearly seven months after the election.

Staley Ferry and Pelkie said their office didn't have a position on changing the requirement to initial ballots. Still, Staley Ferry assured the members that her office was stressing this requirement during its training of judges for the March election.

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