Nicolas G. "Nico" Jimenez: Candidate Profile
Name: Nicolas G. "Nico" Jimenez
Office sought: Kane County Clerk
Family: Son of Walter and Sandra, eldest brother to Lauren, John, and Nathan.
Occupation: Quality Assurance Manager
Education: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, B.S. Food Science and Human Nutrition, Marmion Academy
Civic involvement: Campton Township Democrats, Chair
Democratic Precinct Committeeperson, CA 01
Elected offices held: Democratic Precinct Committeeperson, CA 01
Questions & Answers
Question 1: How will you evaluate the takeover of elections in Aurora to determine if improvements are needed prior to the next election?
Evaluating the efficacy of our elections is vital to our democracy. If elected, I would like to conduct an analysis using similar indicators as the Elections Performance Index to assess the election for the entire county, paying particular attention to the newly obtained Aurora precincts. I plan on collecting data from turnout rate, mail ballots rejected, mail ballots unreturned, provisional ballots cast, provisional ballots rejected, reported wait times and other issues reported at the polling place on Election Day to assess whether or not improvements must be made. For example, if there are long wait times reported, the clerk's office must assess if the root cause stems from voters showing up as not being registered or if there was an insufficient amount of election judges at the polling places causing an inefficient process. The utilization of this evaluation will ensure efficient and effective elections.
Question 2: The county has implemented across-the-board budget cuts in recent years. With the additional expense of the Aurora elections, is it possible for the clerk's office to further reduce expenses? What would be the impact of such cuts to services?
As with any office or business, it is very important to assess the finances in realistic terms. First, increased modernization in the clerk's office will not only improve efficiency but also help reduce costs by streamlining and standardizing processes. Second, transitioning to a paper ballot system will lower costs for elections each year. Currently, we are using direct-reporting election voting systems, which cost approximately $470,000 a year for the voting systems and software licensing fees. Utilizing optical scanners and paper ballots will save the citizens of the county a considerable amount of money by the end of my first term. Despite the added costs the county will incur by taking over the Aurora elections, modernizing aspects of the clerk's office and transitioning the county to a paper ballot system will not only reduce costs, but also provide prompt services and produce a safer, more secure, and more accurate form of voting.
Question 3: There are bills being introduced in Congress that would mandate the use of paper ballot systems and only such systems. Do you support that movement? Is that the best way to ensure ballot integrity?
Yes, I would support a transition to a paper ballot system. As previously mentioned, paper ballot election systems are the most safe, secure, and accurate forms of voting. Several studies have shown the vulnerability of direct-reporting election voting systems, and at a time when threats of cyber security attacks are trying to undermine our elections, we need to make sure we are utilizing the safest and most secure form of voting. A paper ballot and optical scanning voting system coupled with strict pre-operational and postelection audits is the best way to ensure the security and accuracy of our voting system. An example of which would be an Election Day audit, where election judges will randomly sample 10 percent of the ballots cast in each precinct immediately after polls close and compare them to the votes recorded. The data from all precincts will be aggregated and generate a 99 percent confidence level in the accuracy of our elections. These auditing systems and transitioning to a paper ballot voting system will guarantee ballots are being accurately recorded, tabulated, and reported. Taken together, it is my belief that transitioning to a paper ballot system is the best way to ensure election integrity, and am in full support of this movement.
Question 4: Would you support the opening of a satellite office for the clerk in Elgin? Is the cost of such an office justified by benefits to Elgin area residents? Should the city of Elgin contribute to the costs of opening and running such an office?
Currently, Elgin residents have limited access to the clerk's office during its operating hours of business, thus, I fully support opening a satellite location in Elgin to better serve the people of that area. The county clerk's office maintains vital records and provides important services to the residents of Kane County, thus access to these services need to be universal. In terms of the costs associated, the City of Aurora has recently opened a satellite office under the current budget and has done so with the help of local city officials, including the mayor, to allow the new satellite office to operate in a space rent free. The new satellite office space is owned by the city of Aurora, which was able to give free lease to the county clerk in exchange for services provided in order to avoid higher costs to the citizens via tax increases. If the city of Elgin and the County Clerk's Office can work together in an effort to provide a space for the office in a similar manner, citizens will be able to access the services efficiently and effectively. If no such option exists, the clerk's office must rely on revenues to establish a satellite location for the citizens in the northern part of our county. Taken together, I am supportive of a satellite office being opened in Elgin to better serve the residents of that area, and believe we can achieve this with little to no added costs to Elgin citizens.
Question 5: Would you support combining the offices of the county clerk with the county recorder to reduce overall costs?
County governments across the state have been combining the county clerk and county recorder offices in order to reduce costs for county residents. In fact, our neighbors in Cook County will be combining the offices of County Clerk and Recorder of Deeds by 2020 in an effort to reduce costs. That said, if comprehensive reviews showed that merging these two offices would be cost effective and allow more room in the budget to address the fiscal responsibility for taking on the aurora elections, as well as adding a satellite office in Elgin, I am in full support of this movement. However, this decision will ultimately be up to the residents of Kane County through a binding referendum. Should this issue come to a vote, I will ensure the citizens are well-informed with the details of what combining these two offices would entail, how it would affect the residents of Kane County, the cost effectiveness of the merger, and how services to the county will continue to be distributed.