Oh, DuPage County, have you forgotten who you are?
Generations of Chicagoans fled to you, DuPage, to escape the political corruption of the big bad city.
In Chicago, the rule of thumb was to “vote early and often.” In DuPage, a single honorable vote, almost always for a Republican, sufficed.
In Chicago, the quiet residents of cemeteries voted. In DuPage, only the living, if sometimes barely.
In Chicago, vote returns from the “river wards” could be held up for hours, allowing for a little late-night skulduggery to put a Machine favorite in a tight race over the top. In DuPage, goodness no.
But on Tuesday in DuPage, the election process looked about as squared away as in Chicago circa 1947. Final voting results were not released until roughly eight hours after the polls closed, about 3 a.m. A skeptic might wonder if everything was on the up and up.
We’re told it was a hardware problem. Elections judges were unable to get results from scanning machines, which are used to read paper ballots, and the judges had to lug 268 of the machines to the election commission office in Wheaton to tally the results.
Now, on Tuesday, election officials will be on the hot seat. The DuPage County Board has asked them to attend a board meeting to explain what went wrong and how to fix it. “I promise you, there’s going to be changes,” County Board President Dan Cronin told the Daily Herald. “I am not done with this.”
But there’s little mystery about what should be done — it was right on the ballot. An advisory referendum question asked voters whether the DuPage County Election Commission should be dissolved and its responsibilities taken over by the office of the county clerk.
Fifty-six percent of the voters said that was a good idea. After Tuesday’s show of incompetence by the election commission, you can bet that even more voters now would say that’s a good idea.
Cronin, who has been a leader in Illinois in trying to eliminate unnecessary units of government, is pushing the merger, which he says would make the election process more accountable and save DuPage taxpayers $300,000 a year. But the change requires a change in state law, and the Legislature has been slow to go along.
Why? Because the Legislature is always slow to go along when it comes to eliminating unnecessary units of government. It’s about jobs and political turf. For the same reason, the Legislature has been insufficiently aggressive in eliminating township governments.
Cronin is right. The DuPage Election Commission bungled it badly on Tuesday.
And we were feeling the ghosts of those old Chicago ward heelers.
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