Election

Incumbent Jack Cunningham seeks 6th term as Kane County Clerk

Cunningham cites expanded voter access, transparency, updated technology for all clerk functions

John "Jack" Cunningham

John “Jack” Cunningham is seeking re-election to a sixth term as Kane County Clerk, and is facing challenger Douglas Warlick, a Geneva attorney, in the June 28 GOP primary.

The primary winner will face off against Democrat Nicolas Jimenez in the Nov. 8 general election.

Cunningham wrote on Shaw Local News Network’s candidate questionnaire sent to all candidates that he is proud of the work his office did to improve voter access.

“Our in-person early voting program is one of, if not the largest, among the surrounding counties with 25 early voting sites throughout the county,” Cunningham wrote.

“Voters can go to any early voting center in the county, whether it is close to their home, work, or school to vote early,” Cunningham wrote. “More than 100,000 early in person votes were cast in the Nov. 2020 election, even more than the number of votes cast by mail.”

Cunningham cited a Voter Outreach Program, in which his office partnered with local businesses and governments to promote voter participation – including in-person early voting and voter registration.

“Nearly half of Kane County voters now use the in person Early Voting option in general elections, which is more than double the amount before the VOP (Voter Outreach Program),” Cunningham wrote.

“Kane County was the first county in Illinois to have a Votemobile, or a mobile precinct which can be used for Early Voting,” Cunningham wrote. “We are a model for voting access as Lake County recently purchased a Votemobile. Kane County engages 2 Votemobiles as part of our Early Voting program and allows for more voters to have an accessible Early Voting location closer to their home or work.”

Cunningham wrote that he cut his budget by $200,000 and generated an additional source of non-property tax revenue with a passport convenience fee. He eliminated some management positions and cross-trained staff for more efficiency.

By using an automated ballot printing, assembly and processing system, Cunningham wrote that he saved taxpayers $700,000 in postage and staff costs in the 2020 election – and $1.5 million since taking over the Aurora Election Commission in 2018.

“When I took office, we generated $600k/year in revenue, and last year, we generated $1.55 million,” Cunningham wrote.

Cunningham cited technological advancements with upgraded servers, a new system for automation of vital records and tax extension.

Staff has scanned and imaged decades of vital records statistics, election results and other information going back decades, he wrote.

Cunningham wrote that his office scanned more than 80,000 vote by mail ballots for public review and installed cameras in the vote by mail processing room for each step of the process so poll watchers and the public could observe.

“Our voter registration system (VRS) is one of the best in the country and renowned for its functionality and security,” Cunningham wrote.

Election judges verified voters’ names and signatures with those on file in the voter registration system for in-person voting, he wrote.

“For voters who exercise the Vote by Mail option, similar safeguards are in place,” Cunningham wrote.

“The voter’s signature on the envelope is scanned and a bipartisan team of both Republican and Democratic judges review the signature to verify that it matches the signature in the VRS,” Cunningham wrote. “A challenged signature can be cured by the voter with proof of identity, just as can be done at an in-person voting location.”

Cunningham wrote that his office uses multiple levels of security and documentation for transparency and accuracy.

“Every ballot is accounted for from printing to tabulation. In person voters can verify the accuracy of their votes by confirming the names on the screen match the names on the paper trail,” Cunningham wrote. “Voters voting by mail can track receipt of their ballot through the ballot tracking system available on the Clerk’s website.”

An attorney, Cunningham previously served on the city of Aurora Board of Commissioners and has been a Republican precinct committeeman since 1960.

Brenda Schory

Brenda Schory

Brenda Schory covers Geneva, crime and courts, and features for the Kane County Chronicle