For decades, the DuPage County Election Commission has failed to seek permission from a state office before destroying key polling machine records detailing how residents voted, said an official from the Illinois secretary of state's office.
Other election authorities comply by asking the Local Records Commission, a division of the secretary's office, said Gloria Huston, archival program administrator for the Records Management Section of the Illinois State Archives.
The Local Records Act states that "no public record shall be disposed of by any local governmental agency unless written approval of the Local Records Commission is first obtained." A violation is a felony, according to state statute. ***
Melissa Urda and Jean Kaczmarek, co-chairwomen of the DuPage Chapter of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project, a non-partisan election watchdog group, came across the issue as they sought "poll tapes" for the November 2004 election. They were hoping to check the accuracy of optical scan voting machines made by Diebold Inc., a lightning rod for controversy because its former chairman is a supporter of President Bush. They have not been permitted to do so.
Poll tapes are the printouts made from the machines the evening of an election after the machine has read all the ballots and tallied the votes on its internal computer.
"The illegal destruction of records is a breach of public trust," Kaczmarek said. "If the commission has not been following the rule of law, how can we trust how they're conducting elections, particularly when the process is not transparent to the public?"
Neither the administrative nor the election code mentions "poll tapes" by name, but Huston says they are the modern "equivalent of a tally sheet." ***
In most of Illinois, county clerks oversee elections, though there are a few local election commissions. DuPage is the only countywide election commission. Formed in 1974, it is bipartisan and independent, although the county funds its roughly $4 million annual budget.
County clerks regularly seek permission from the state's Local Records Commission to destroy election-related records by filing what's known as a "records disposal certificate" with the agency, Huston said. Individual election commissions, such as those in Aurora and Peoria, also do this. The Chicago Board of Elections has filed 36 certificates requesting permission to destroy records since Jan. 1, 2003, Huston said.
In that same time, the Local Records Commission has gotten 568 requests to dispose of records from government offices in DuPage County, ranging from the Addison Fire Protection District to the county coroner. More than 60 came from countywide offices.
"That is a very good compliance rate," Huston said.
But the county Election Commission has "never filed a records disposal certificate" for poll tapes or any other documents, though it should have, Huston said. The Local Records Act defines public agencies as being "any court, and all parts, boards, departments, bureaus and commissions of any county, municipal corporation or political subdivision."
"It does not say, 'except the DuPage County Election Commission,'" Huston said.
Friday, May 05, 2006
No Recounts for DuPage County
From your Chicago Tribune:
- ► 2008 (244)
- ► 2007 (349)
- 08AMA DAMMIT!
- Roskam Compares Single Mothers to Criminals
- I Just Like Thinking About a "Bush Post-Presidency...
- Fear the Conservatives
- Don't Forget the Reason for the Season
- At War With The Mystics
- Sun-Times' Robert Novak and Karl Rove
- Rampaging Hastert
- Chicago: Barking Dogs A Menace, Except When They'r...
- "A Public Service Announcement for Those Americans...
- Strippers Converge on Chicago
- Jay Mariotti, This is Why You Will Deserve It When...
- Charity Begins at Home
- "The Plan"
- Gallows Humor
- Local Author's Sophomore Effort
- "What Happened Is True. Now the Motion Picture Th...
- Creepy Pete Getting Sleazy
- Denny A-Tax Working Families
- Actually, It's a Very Prestigious Award.
- Unknown Unknowns
- Two Items From Page 25 of Your Chicago Sun-Times
- Creepy Pete Supports Spying on 6th District Reside...
- The NSA Is Building a Database of Every Phone Call...
- "Forbid it, Almighty God!"
- Yes, That's A Two.
- Are We Doomed?
- Kids These Days...
- an·gry -- adj., Feeling or showing anger; incensed...
- Who's Paying for the GOP Tax Cuts for the Mega-Ric...
- Don't Believe The Hype
- Denny's Priorities: Rich Men and Wall Street Firs...
- XVP is the Job for Me!
- Rahm: No Regrets on IL-6 Primary
- Today is the BIG DAY!
- No Recounts for DuPage County
- Obama, America Step Up Against Genocide
- "Dying is Easy -- Comedy is Hard."
- Well, I guess that explains some things...
- I don't think people who make fun of me are funny ...
- The Immigration Question
- "Kill 'Em All -- Let God Sort 'Em Out"
- They'd never do that... Right?
- "And all the sinners -- saints."
- "Our immigration laws are absurd."
- "My fellow Americans: Major combat operations in I...
- ▼ May (50)
- ► 2005 (555)