DuPage against state eliminating pay for election panel

DuPage County is opposing legislation to eliminate the $27,500 annual salary paid to members of the county's board of election commissioners.

The county board's legislative committee this week voted 4-1 to lobby state lawmakers to reject the proposal that calls for county election commissioners to serve in an unpaid capacity.

John Curran, chairman of the legislative committee, said most members of the panel don't want Springfield to mandate what the pay should or shouldn't be.

"Leave it to the local government - the county board - to determine what compensation is appropriate for the county's electoral board," Curran said.

State Rep. David Olsen, a Downers Grove Republican, proposed eliminating the pay for DuPage election commissioners after county officials announced a plan to ask the state to merge the election commission with the county clerk's office.

DuPage officials want the commission to become a division of the clerk's office. However, the plan would keep the election commission board, which now has three seats and must have representatives from both major political parties. Republicans hold two of the three seats.

Under the county plan, the board of election commissioners would be expanded to five members. The county clerk would serve as the panel's chairman.

However, some have criticized increasing the election commission board to five members, in part, because of how much they're paid.

Olsen said having an unpaid election commission board would help ensure members are "serving for the right reasons, which is to serve the people and ensure the election process is carried out properly."

But Curran said he believes DuPage's election commissioners serve an essential role in overseeing - and ensuring the integrity of - the county's election process. Those individuals should be compensated, he said.

The salary for the election commission chairman was set at $27,500 in 1999, county officials said. Pay for the other election panel members was set to that amount in 2006.

Now it appears county officials might reduce the salary.

County board Chairman Dan Cronin on Wednesday issued a statement saying the pay for election commissioners will be addressed as part of DuPage's consolidation plan.

"I assure you the commissioners under this new plan will realize a pay cut," Cronin said.

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