Kane County clerk on election: 'I stand by the results. I'm sorry if you don't agree with them.'
Questions raised by local Republicans about the integrity of the 2020 election in Kane County are based on a lack of understanding about election laws, the election process and the use of incorrect data, as shown in a bipartisan, comprehensive response Thursday.
A small group of Republicans, based mainly in the Campton Hills area, have spent the past couple months pushing county officials to have an independent, third-party, forensic audit of the 2020 election. The request is based on the group's interpretations of election data posted on the Kane County clerk's website and anecdotal experiences posted on conservative social media.
"Election integrity is an American issue, not a political issue," said Stephanie Moresco, a spokesperson for the group. "You, as our representatives, can help unravel the mystery of what really transpired during the 2020 general election. Otherwise, how can we be confident voter integrity has been restored here in Kane County."
Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham, a Republican, wasn't present at the July county board meeting to address the questions, but he joined his Deputy Clerk Brian Pollock, who is a Democrat, for a full response at a committee meeting Thursday morning. The response comes after Cunningham, his staff and the Kane County state's attorney's office spent more than 100 hours researching and pulling specific data and legal citations to respond to the questions with supporting documentation.
Cunningham said all of the concerns are attributable to the group not understanding the election data or attaching worries about fraud that aren't supported in reality. The 2020 election saw multiple recounts and intense examination after the close 14th Congressional District contest. Nothing illegal or unethical was found to have happened at any point, he said.
"I can understand people not understanding the election process," Cunningham said. "It's extremely complex, and this election was more complex because of the pandemic. I stand by the results. I'm sorry if you don't agree with them."
Kane County Board members received copies of the group's questions and concerns weeks ago. Republican Party Chairman Ken Shepro, who also serves on the county board, said his examination of the questions and suggested fraud lost all credibility when the major allegation about an impossible growth in the number of registered Kane County voters "carelessly" didn't account for the dissolution of Aurora Election Commission and Kane County absorbing those voters.
"Essentially, all of this was predicated on this startling discovery of votes," Shepro said. "It's appropriate to ask questions. But there has to be an end to it, and you have to consider whether some of these questions were submitted with any sense of accuracy or integrity."
Here are some of the questions raised, and a summary of the answers provided by officials:
Why did Kane County not have any provisional ballots cast?
Provisional ballots can be cast when a voter shows up at a polling place but that voter's name is not in the local voter registration database. But state law also requires counties as large as Kane to provide same-day voter registration. In each case where that happened in the 2020 election, Kane County residents chose to register by showing two forms of a valid ID and cast a ballot the same day as the election rather than cast a provisional ballot.
Why does Kane County's registered voter database show hundreds of people who are 121 years old who voted in 2020?
In the past, Illinois law did not require a specific date of birth to be entered into the database when someone registers to vote. That created a default birth date of Jan. 1, 1900, for all of those people. At one point, more than 3,500 Kane County voters had that default birth date in the system. The county now does collect a specific date of birth and is working to update birth dates for older registrants. However, that process is still incomplete. There are still about 200 voters with the 1900 birth date.
Did dead people or people who don't live in Kane County vote in the county's 2020 election?
No. In addition to running elections, the county clerk's office is the keeper of local death records. Anytime a registered voter dies, the database is updated. The county shares that database with the Illinois State Board of Elections and a nationwide network of databases that provides information to local election authorities about when someone moves and registers to vote in another locality.
"Voters who vote in an election sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury, and election fraud is a felony in Illinois," Pollock said. "We've seen that prosecuted in the rare instances that has happened."
How come there are so many more registered voters in Kane County in 2020 than there were in 2012?
There are about 108,000 more registered voters in Kane County now than in 2012. Nearly half that increase is the result of Kane County absorbing more than 53,000 Aurora voters after the Aurora Election Commission ceased functioning in 2018. Online voter registration began in 2014 and automatic voter registration in 2017 when anyone renews a driver's license at a secretary of state facility.