Costs Of Special Election Shock County Clerks

Mar 23, 2015

The resignation of U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock and the required special election have officials in the 19 Illinois counties in his 18th Congressional District concerned about how to cover those costs.

County clerks they are asking Illinois lawmakers to delay a new state law allowing same-day voter registration which takes effect June 1, the Associated Press reports.

The special election can’t occur before that date due to current state law regarding the timing for candidates to submit nominating petitions.. But clerks in the 18th Congressional District say they won’t have enough money or time to implement changes to comply with the law.

“There’s no way we can be ready for that,” McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael said.

Schock announced last week that he will step down on March 31, saying constant questions about irregularities in his campaign and district office spending had become a distraction.

It also was confirmed last week that the Department of U.S. Justice is investigating the Peoria Republican’s spending and his business dealings. FBI agents have started issuing subpoenas to potential witnesses.

The next federal grand jury convenes in Springfield April 7.

Once Schock leaves office, Gov. Bruce Rauner has five days to schedule a special election to replace him. The primary and general election must occur within 120 days of the vacancy, or by the end of July.

Several county clerks from the district, meeting Friday in Springfield, said they hadn’t budgeted for the additional expense of a special election.

The clerks said they’re not opposed to allowing same-day registration at the main county election office, which they did during the November election.

Michael estimated the cost of preparing each polling place for same-day registration would be $300,000. Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray put the costs for his county at up to $200,000.

“I’ve got to find $200,000 out of nowhere,” Gray said. “Something needs to be done.”

Lawmakers approved same-day voter registration for all Illinois elections last year after a trial run in the November election. Supporters say it increases voter turnout.

The 18th Congressional District stretches across western and central Illinois and includes portions of four counties in the southern portion of the WNIJ listening area.

  • Tanya Koonce of Illinois Public Radio contributed to this story