A part of the mission of KCDW is to “create positive change through engagement, education, and empowerment.” On November 6, KCDW held a nonpartisan forum at Gail Borden Library entitled “Every Vote Counts! Can Voting and Integrity Still Be Used in the Same Sentence?” The speakers were Brian Pollock, representing Jack Cunningham, Kane County Clerk, and Dr. William “Bill” Muck, Chair of the Political Science Department at North Central College in Naperville. Mr. Pollock addressed the “micro” detailed description of the voting process, while Dr. Muck addressed the “macro” big picture of voting and democracy in America and around the world.
Mr. Pollock spoke first about the safeguards in place in Kane County to ensure that every vote counts and that elections are fair. He emphasized that signatures are checked for verification when a vote is cast in person or by mail. The process is even more stringent for votes received by mail. Three election judges, composed of both Republican and Democratic judges, verify each signature on screen. When a signature does not match, the voter is contacted and given an opportunity to verify that the signature is authentic. A team of judges composed of both parties are also present any time ballots come in from precincts and are counted. Ballots are locked in a vault until election day when they are counted. No one knows the results of the election before the end of election day. Mr. Pollock also showed a video of voting equipment used in Orange County, CA, which uses the same machines used in Kane County. The video demonstrated how ballots are opened electronically by machines and separated electronically from the envelopes, demonstrating the safety, privacy, and security of the voting process.The machines also tabulate the votes, eliminating any influence or error by people from either party. Mr. Pollock concluded by urging voters to seek evidence when they hear rumors that an election is rigged. Do not accept statements on Facebook or other social media. Call the county clerk’s office and ask if the statement is true. The county clerk is there to serve the public.
Dr. Muck began by discussing what is happening to democracy in the U.S. and around the world and cautioned the audience to be aware of dangers to democracy and take steps to preserve our freedom. He mentioned that there are four signs that signal threats to democracy, and there is evidence of these signs in the U.S.
- An authoritarian figure becomes elected in the democratic process and starts making changes to control the democracy and make it a monarchy. This figure attempts to remain in office even when the people do not elect him or her.
- An attempt to take control of democratic institutions so they favor the view of one party. This has happened with the U.S. Supreme Court, and there were attempts to influence the Department of Justice and other institutions. Dr. Muck cited Vladimir Putin as an example of a democratically elected official who kept democratic institutions but has complete control of all of them.
- The authoritarian figure and some members of the party in charge encourage violence against people who do not share their views. The attack on the Capitol on January 6 is a prime example of this.
- The authoritarian figure and party in control take steps to restrict voting and access to voting in areas where they think they have no chance of winning. The legislatures in Florida, Georgia, and Arizona, and some other western states have taken steps to restrict voter access by passing laws that cut the numbers of polling places and the hours the polls are open (especially in areas with minority populations). In Georgia, they have passed inhumane laws that do not allow people to distribute water to voters standing in long lines on a warm day. All these changes are described as ways to make elections safer, but in fact, they do the opposite.
Democracy is under attack in the U.S. and other countries around the world. Kane County Chair Corinne Pierog concluded the forum by encouraging each one present to vote in every election and to research and learn about the views of each candidate before voting. By casting our vote, we help to ensure that America remains a democracy.