Aurora Election Commission - MARCH 20 BALLOT


On the March 20 ballot, Aurora voters will be able to vote on the following question:
Shall the City Election Law be Rejected?

In the most basic terms, the question is asking:
Should the Aurora Election Commission be Closed*?

“Closing” the Election Commission means that the Commission will no longer continue to exist and all of its functions will be taken over by the County Clerk.  Except in a handful of cities in Illinois, County Clerks are responsible for elections. The Kane, Kendall and Will County Clerks administer voter registration and conduct elections in their counties everywhere else but in Aurora.

Voting “YES” means voters agree the Aurora Election Commission (AEC) should be closed. In the event the referendum is successful, the Kane County Clerk has agreed to establish a branch office in downtown Aurora to take the place of the AEC and to provide additional services to residents which the AEC cannot offer. 

Voting “NO” means voters agree the AEC should remain as is since 1934.

ABOUT THE AURORA ELECTION COMMISSION

The Aurora Election Commission (AEC) is an independent body that serves as the election authority for the City of Aurora, except for the portion of Aurora located in DuPage County. Voters in DuPage County are served by the DuPage County Election Commission and are also being asked whether they’d like to see their Election Commission closed as well.

Throughout Illinois, in cities which are not served by Election Commissions, the county clerk serves as the election authority and county government is solely responsible for paying the costs associated with conducting elections. Additionally, under State law, the State’s attorney serves as the legal counsel to the county clerk and provides advice on election matters without additional fee or reward. 

When the City’s voters established the AEC by referendum in 1934, they did so to ensure that voter registration was available in Aurora. In creating the AEC, these voters also caused costs associated with running elections to be transferred from Kane County to the City.  Since 1934, changes to federal and State law have greatly reduced barriers to voter registration and today there are more ways to register to vote than at any time in the past. 

The Election Code authorizes the AEC to manage elections within the City of Aurora. This includes responsibility for voter registration, early and Election Day voting, and the tabulation and certification of election results.  The Election Code does not authorize the AEC to provide any services not related to these functions.

The AEC is governed by three individuals appointed by Kane County’s Chief Judge.  Aurora’s voters and elected officials have no say in their appointment. Aurora’s voters and elected officials also have no control over the AEC’s spending The Election Code makes the City’s taxpayers responsible for significant costs associated with operating the AEC.  These costs include the salaries and benefits. 

Property and sales taxes collected in the City of Aurora support county government, including the election operations of the county clerk. These taxes also support the operations of the AEC. Aurora taxpayer pay for their county’s election services as well as the election services of the AEC.

THE CURRENT COST TO OPERATE THE AURORA ELECTION COMMISSION

Year
Aurora Contribution
Kane County Contribution
Annual Combined Payments to AEC
for the last 10 yrs.
2007
$508,886.82
$453,876.00
$962,762.52
2008
$972,265.40
$490,806.00
$1,463,071.40
2009
$594,223.67
$515,135.00
$1,109,358.67
2010
$859,291.56
$504,209.00
$1,363,500.56
2011
$842,560.00
$465,634.00
$1,208,194.00
2012
$974,041.00
$418,433.00
$1,392,474.00
2013
$364,615.36
$364,615.00
$729,230.36
2014
$600,781.60
$347,539.00
$948,418.60
2015
$767,090.00
$344,637.00
$1,111,727.00
2016
$531,494.00
$363,600.00
$895,094.00
2017
$526,750.00
$402,190.00
$928,940.00
TOTAL
$7,541,999.41
$4,670,674.00
$12,212,673.40

The Kane County Clerk, the Mayor of Aurora, and the Chairman of the Kane County Board have agreed to work collaboratively to establish a satellite office of the County Clerk in downtown Aurora if the referendum prevails.

The County Clerk has agreed to provide a variety of services at this satellite office which cannot be offered by the AEC.  

If the referendum prevails, these individuals have agreed to work with the Aurora City Council and the Kane County Board to formalize the agreement.

A COMPARISON OF SERVICES

Services Currently Provided by the 
Aurora Election Commission
Services to be provided as a 
Satellite Office of the Kane County Clerk
Elections
Elections
Election Results
Election Results
Early Voting
Early Voting
Polling Sites
Polling Sites
Voter Registration
Voter Registration

Voter Mobile

Birth Certificates

Death Certificates

Marriage Licenses

Passports 

Voter Education

Candidate Services 


Voting “YES” means voters agree the Aurora Election Commission (AEC) should be closed. In the event the referendum is successful, the Kane County Clerk has agreed to establish a branch office in downtown Aurora to take the place of the AEC and to provide additional services to residents which the AEC cannot offer. 

Voting “NO” means voters agree the AEC should remain as is since 1934.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q:   What is the City Election Law?

A:   The City Election Law refers to three articles of the Illinois Election Code which collectively provide that the Aurora Election Commission is responsible for registering voters, conducting elections, and tabulating results within the City of Aurora.

Q:   What does the City Election Law do?

A:   In Illinois, the general rule is that county clerks are responsible for registering voters, conducting elections, and tabulating results. When a City adopts the City Election Law, it establishes an election commission to conduct elections within boundaries. While it is not a separate unit of government, an election commission does not operate under control of City authorities. When a city adopts the City Election Law, it also undertakes the costs associated with maintaining the election commission.

Q:   When did Aurora adopt the City Election Law and why? 

A:   Voters in the City of Aurora adopted the City Election Law in 1934 to ensure that residents could register to vote locally.

Q:   Is all of Aurora subject to the City Election Law?

A:   No. In 1974, DuPage County created the DuPage County Election Commission which had the effect of rejecting the City Election Law in the DuPage County portion of the City of Aurora. The City Election Law is in effect in the portions of Aurora located within Kane, Kendall, and Will Counties. This is why Aurora voters in DuPage County cannot vote to reject the City Election Law. Instead, voters in DuPage County will be asked whether they wish to maintain the DuPage County Election Commission.

Q:   Why is the wording of the ballot question so confusing?

A:   The exact wording of the ballot question “Shall the City Election Law Be Rejected?” is required by Article 6 of the Election Code.

Q:   If the City Election Law is rejected, will I lose my right to vote?

A:   No. The City Election Law does not grant anyone the right to vote. Your right to vote is protected by many federal and State laws including the Voting Rights Act. The City Election Law is about who registers voters and conducts elections in the City of Aurora.

Q:   Where can I register to vote if the City Election Law is rejected?

A:   Under Illinois law, you can register at the county clerk’s office, city and village offices, township offices, schools, public libraries, military recruitment offices and even online. For more information about voter registration, please visit the Illinois State Board of Elections website.

Q:   Will my polling place change if the City Election Law is rejected?

A:   Possibly. Throughout Illinois, polling places have been combined or relocated in order to adjust to changes in the law, including the creation of early voting. Regardless of whether the City Election Law is rejected or not, your polling may change. Your local election authority, whether it’s the Election Commission or a county clerk, are obligated by law to provide access to the polls and to notify you of any changes to your polling place.

Q:   How will early voting work if the City Election Law is rejected?

A:   Under the City Election Law, Aurora voters may only early vote at locations designated by the Aurora Election Commission. If the City Election Law is rejected, voters will be able to vote at any early voting center in their county. For example, an Aurora resident who works in Elgin will be able to early vote at an early voting center in Elgin established by the Kane County Clerk.

Q:   Who will pay if the City Election Law is rejected?

A:   The City of Aurora, on average, pays approximately $700,000 a year to fund the operations of the Aurora Election Commission. Some of these expenses, including legal and professional services will no longer be necessary if the City Election Law is rejected. By operation of law, the county clerks in Kane, Kendall, and Will Counties will assume responsibility for elections in Aurora. They presently perform these services throughout the remainder of their respective counties and already have staff and infrastructure in place to accommodate Aurora voters. Also by law, the State’s attorney serves as the legal advisor to his or her county clerk making outside legal advisors unnecessary.

       Nevertheless, Kane County will likely incur additional expenses if the City Election Law is rejected. To that end, the Chairman of the Kane County Board, the Kane County Clerk, and the Mayor of the City of Aurora have agreed in principle for the City to financially assist the County. Their written memorandum of understanding is available here.  The Kane County Board and the Aurora City Council will need to approve any final agreement.

Q:   What will happen to the local office of the Aurora Election Commission if the City Election Law is rejected?

A:   If the voters reject the City Election Law, the Aurora Election Commission will cease to exist by the end of the spring. The memorandum of understanding between the Chairman of the Kane County Board, the Kane County Clerk, and the Mayor of the City of Aurora contemplates that the Kane County Clerk will establish a branch office in downtown Aurora to provide the services presently offered by the Aurora Election Commission at its office as well as additional services the Commission is not authorized to perform, including access to vital records including birth and death certificate, marriage licenses and passport applications. Again, the Kane County Board and the Aurora City Council will need to approve any final agreement.