Illinois House votes to do away with Lake election commission
SPRINGFIELD -- Just months after voting to take election duties away from the Lake County clerk's office, the Illinois House Wednesday voted to give them back.
The 104-13 vote Wednesday was the latest move in a local political dispute that has prompted grumbling, a lawsuit and now an effort to repeal a new law in Springfield.
Sweeping election legislation approved by state lawmakers in May included two paragraphs creating a new Lake County election commission, a move usually first approved by local voters.
Wednesday's effort would repeal the new government arm. It now moves to the Illinois Senate but can't be approved this week -- lawmakers' last scheduled time in Springfield for the year -- for procedural reasons.
The law's origins remain unclear as state Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat and chairman of the Lake County Democratic party, has denied suggestions he had the provision inserted into the larger legislation. In May he was the only one of Lake County's state senators to vote for it.
State Reps. Scott Drury of Highwood and David McSweeney of Barrington Hills are pushing for repeal, which the Lake County Board also backs.
"The good news is that when this provision was inserted in the legislation ... nobody claims responsibility, so we know of no opposition," McSweeney said.
State Rep. Rita Mayfield, a Waukegan Democrat, was the only Lake County lawmaker to vote against the reversal on Wednesday. She argued the last general election in Lake County was "a mess," particularly for minority voters.
"The Lake County clerk, despite all of her wonderful awards she may have received, did not do her job," Mayfield said.
Lake County Clerk Willard Helander is not seeking re-election.
A local judge could rule Friday in a lawsuit challenging the existence of the commission, which officials say could cost as much as $465,000 per year.