Kane County officials outline election security measures, say fraud unlikely

  • Kane County board member Doug Scheflow

    Kane County board member Doug Scheflow

 
 
Updated 10/22/2020 5:01 PM

Kane County election and legal officials said Thursday there are multiple layers of security protecting mail-in ballots and history shows there is no reason to believe fraud will influence the outcome of next month's election.

Deputy Clerk Brian Pollock spent an hour walking members of the county board's public service committee through the security protocols tied to about 95,000 mail-in ballots sent to Kane County voters. About 57,000 of those ballots already have been cast.

 

Security begins with the application, Pollock said. Clerk's office staff verifies the applications and each ballot is personalized to the voter's registered address. Only registered voters can receive a mail-in ballot.

"If you're not registered, you're not in the system," Pollock said.

The clerk's office sent applications to 211,000 registered voters. There's been some confusion, Pollock said, because Illinois law also allows political parties, candidates and others to send applications to voters.

Pollock said those submitting applications for a mail-in ballot should make sure to mail them to the clerk's office.

Filled out ballots mailed back are either hand delivered to the clerk's office or placed in one of three indoor, secured and video-monitored drop boxes in Aurora, Elgin and Geneva.

Three-person, bipartisan teams of election judges oversee the signature verification or rejection of those ballots, which is done on a monitor showing only the envelope signature and the signature on record. That prevents the judges from knowing how the person voted.

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"No individual, whether election judge or clerk staff, knows how a voter voted or has a tally of the votes," Pollock said. "It doesn't happen. The ballots are not counted until after the polls close on election night."

Any disputed signatures or mailing date questions are resolved when the voter is notified about the problem and receives up until 14 days after the election to resolve the dispute with a legal affidavit swearing to their authenticity.

Pollock said unique bar codes on each person's ballot prevents a voter from casting a ballot in person and by mail. The system is able to count only one vote for each registered voter.

Assistant Kane County State's Attorney Joe Lulves addressed concerns about possible fraud raised by county board Chairman Chris Lauzen earlier this month. At the time, Lauzen said people who aren't worried about fraud are "Pollyannaish."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But Lulves said there is no data to support concerns about fraud altering the outcome of the election in Kane County or Illinois. He said there is no history of criminal conduct in Kane County's elections going back at least 20 years.

Statewide data shows 39 criminal convictions for violating Illinois election code since 1982. Lulves described those convictions as an "incredibly small number" given the many millions of votes cast during that time.

"The 39 convictions show people do things that are criminal during elections," Lulves said. "However, it does not influence elections. None of those convictions are related to a systemic or wide attempt to sway an election with a large number of voters."

Lauzen said nothing in response to Lulves. But committee chair Doug Scheflow said even a little fraud can impact an election, noting he won his first contested race by 13 votes.

"Murder is not widespread, but it exists," Scheflow said. "And it's a very serious problem. It doesn't take widespread fraud to swing an election. I think it's possible."

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