Election panel needs to take charge

The proximate cause of the recent problems in many DuPage County polling places was that no one tested a new batch of items that allow the equipment to total-up the votes. And once the problem was discovered, the polling places were not notified of how to deal with it.

But the root cause is the lack of clear command and control of the functioning of the DuPage Election Commission staff.

For over three years, I have attended the monthly meetings of the three-member appointed commission. Most times there are only one or two of us in the audience.

I do not recall ever hearing any discussion of whether any idea should go forward or not, or what any policy should be. The commissioners just meet, approve the previous minutes, vote to pay the bills, and then adjourn. Many of those bills are for large amounts for things that have never been discussed by them.

It seems the commission's staff is abandoned to figuring out its own path, because I never see any initiative or direction from the commission itself.

In previous decades, the Election Commission was a patronage reward, giving political insiders $50,000 a year (plus health benefits) for meeting an hour each month. As long as the paycheck cleared, those folks were content.

When Dan Cronin became county chairman, the salary was cut back to about half, and benefits were eliminated. The pay is still too high (it works out to around $1,000 per hour), but the members (who are all sincere) need to start earning it by actually discussing and debating issues and setting policy instead of following past practice of letting things just coast.

Mr. Cronin wants to eliminate the commission, and it deserves to be. Until it is, its members need to take charge.

Stan Zegel


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