Editorial: Write-in mistakes show need for change in DuPage election system

  • Errors and delays in counting votes March 15 exposed a need for better equipment and training of election judges in DuPage County.

    Errors and delays in counting votes March 15 exposed a need for better equipment and training of election judges in DuPage County.

 
The Daily Herald Editorial Board
Posted4/21/2016 6:04 PM

It shouldn't take more than five weeks and a lawsuit to find out if you won an uncontested write-in countywide election.

After all, this isn't Bush-Gore and the hanging chads in Florida. This was an uncontested primary election for the Democratic nomination for DuPage County recorder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Did Moon Khan, the candidate in question, receive enough write-in votes to move on to the general election in November against Republican incumbent Fred Buchholz?

The answer finally came Thursday -- yes, he did get more than the minimum 844 votes he needed. In fact, a recount found an additional 170 valid votes to put him over the top.

It never should have taken this long, nor should Khan have needed to file a lawsuit to get it done. It was clear there were issues -- Khan was awarded only one vote in his own precinct in which his wife, son and neighbor also voted for him.

The DuPage Election Commission needs to investigate its processes and training of judges further and make significant changes before it runs another Election Night debacle as it did on March 15. It's already been criticized for its slowness in counting ballots, and now it's clear that judges erred in several write-in contests.

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"I did this so we can know why it happened and how the system can be reformed so no other candidates will need to spend the money and knock at the door of the judicial system," Khan said earlier this week.

"Today's recount exposed the flaws in the voting procedures of DuPage County," Khan said Thursday

An earlier vote recount resulted in two Republican precinct committeeman write-in candidates also being declared winners.

The issue in all these cases apparently involves election-night judges somehow improperly counting write-in ballots. And even after a lawsuit was filed to get the recount -- commission officials said they had to have a court order to look into the matter -- commission attorney Pat Bond said the agency had a "high level of confidence" in the process.

That confidence was misplaced.

"They looked at (the write-in votes)," Bond said Thursday of the election judges. "There's clearly evidence that they reviewed those, and they rejected them. They said they weren't valid."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Couple these errors with the need to investigate new technology to help speed up counting, and it's clear that the election commission needs to get to work to improve it's one main job. Will it cost some money?

Perhaps.

Or, perhaps some money can be found to improve operations by revisiting the issue of consolidating election work under the county clerk's purview, as it is done in many other counties. DuPage County has been lauded as a leader in government consolidation in the state. Is there some low-hanging fruit here that's been missed?

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