State moves to take election oversight from Lake County clerk

SPRINGFIELD — A lengthy list of proposed election rules emerged Tuesday that would take supervision of voting away from Lake County Clerk Willard Helander and create a new board to do the same job.

“It’s a power grab to take over election authority in Lake County,” Helander said.

Legislation to make the change — and also allow online voter registration statewide — was approved by an Illinois Senate committee Tuesday, sending it on for further debate.

A five-member board would be created within 90 days of the rules changing, and the members would be appointed by Lake County’s chief judge, currently Fred Foreman.

Helander protested that usually when election boards like the ones that run voting in Aurora and DuPage County are set up, voters are allowed to decide to go that direction. In this case, state lawmakers would make the change on their own.

And, she said, the move would cost the county money.

State Rep. Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat and the plan’s sponsor, said the move made sense because it works for other counties.

State Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, expressed concern that voters wouldn’t be involved, arguing the new board members would be “foisted” upon Lake County.

“This provision strikes me as a little heavy-handed,” Murphy said.

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