Lake County clerk tours Kane County’s facilities

O’Connor sees vote-by-mail automation equipment used for elections

GENEVA – Kane County Clerk John Cunningham recently hosted Lake County Clerk Robin O’Connor and a dozen members of her staff at the Kane County Clerk’s Office.

Cunningham gave O’Connor and staff a tour of the clerk’s office in Geneva and the elections warehouse in St. Charles. He provided a demonstration of the state-of-the-art vote by mail automation equipment and explained how it saved time and money during the election in November 2020.

O’Connor is looking into vote by mail equipment and reached out to Cunningham about bringing her staff to visit Kane County. O’Connor visited Kane County last year to discuss preparations for the 2020 general election and to view Devnet, Kane County’s tax extension and vital records software.

“It was a pleasure to host Robin and her staff,” Cunningham said. “As former president of the National Association of County Recorders and Clerks, I have worked with other clerks from both parties around the county and built a network to discuss best practices, evaluate election equipment and develop new innovative ways to provide services. I work closely with clerks from around the state, especially in the collar counties, because we share some of the same challenges and can work together to find creative ways to serve the public more efficiently.”

“I want to thank Jack and his staff for hosting us at the office,” O’Connor said. “I look forward to talking to Jack because I always learn something. Kane County is a model for many of us because they have made so many advancements in the field and we like to see what they are doing that works so well. The relationships I have with other clerks like Jack have helped me to modernize my office and provide better services to the residents of Lake County.”

The Lake County Clerk’s Office recently purchased a Votemobile, joining Kane County as the second election authority in Illinois with a Votemobile.

Before the November 2020 election, Cunningham purchased a sorter to automate the processing of inbound vote by mail ballots and an inserter to assemble the outbound vote by mail ballots and envelopes. The sorter time stamps the ballot when it comes into the office, scans the voter’s signature so that a bipartisan panel of election judges can compare it to the signature in the voter registration database, sorts the unsigned or empty envelopes from the good ones and prepares the envelopes to be opened by election judges. The inserter automates the formerly manual process of assembling the vote by mail ballot, affidavits, instructions and return envelope inside a larger envelope.

Through automation and efficient management, Cunningham estimated the Kane County Clerk’s Office saved more than $500,000 in additional staff salaries to assemble and process more than 80,000 vote by mail ballots and an additional $175,000 in postage by folding ballots a second time to fit into a smaller return envelope. While other counties were processing vote by mail ballots late into the night in the November 2020 election and catching up in the days that followed, Kane County had processed and tabulated all of the early votes and mail votes that had been cast in the county before Election Day by 7:15 p.m. the night of the election.