The Observer
News from the League of Women Voters
of Cook County


December 2020
Election News

Electoral College Votes to Confirm Biden

Ordinarily, the Electoral College process is little more than a formality. Not this year.

Members of the Electoral College including those in Illinois gathered in their respective states on Monday, Dec. 14, to cast their official ballots for president. They decisively confirmed Joe Biden as the nation’s next president.

All the ballots will be tallied in Congress on January 6, 2021 when the House and Senate hold a joint session to count the electoral votes. If one ticket receives 270 or more electoral votes, the president of the Senate, currently Vice President Mike Pence, announces the results. Biden won enough states to be awarded more than 270 electoral votes.

Of note: LWVUS has supported the abolition of the Electoral College by constitutional amendment for 50 years, and has been organizing and advocating since then to abolish this election system. 

Post-election news:

  • In Suburban Cook County and Chicago, election officials announced the certified election results. Election results in Cook County show the total number of registered voters was about 1.6 million and the voter turnout, over one million. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners reported over 1.5 million registered voters and 1.1 million votes cast.

  • Suburban Cook County
  • Chicago

  • The Illinois State Board of Elections on Dec. 4 voted unanimously to certify the state’s results from the Nov. 3 election. Election officials said 72.92% of Illinois’ 8,364,999 registered voters cast ballots — the highest total since 1992.

  • In the election for Cook County Board of Review (1st District), Democrat Tammy Wendt was declared as the winner over Republican incumbent Dan Patlak. Totals on Election Day showed Patlak leading by more than 6,000 votes, but the lead quickly disappeared as mail-in and provisional ballots were counted, giving Wendt a lead of more than 10,000 votes.

  • Corral Sepulveda is a newly elected member of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board, replacing Frank Avila.

  • WTTW-11, with support from the Cook County League, announced they received 580,000 page views to date of their Video Voters Guide. A comparison of the page views shows a dramatic increase over previous elections. November 2020 General Election: 580,000; March 2020 Primary Election: 306,271; November 2018 General Election: 115,263

  • More Cook County voters participated in judicial retention races this year than in any election in the past three decades, according to an Injustice Watch analysis of election data. Seven in 10 voters voted in the 60 Cook County retention races. Voters removed just one judge up for retention, marking the second election in a row that a Cook County judge lost a retention bid. No judge lost retention between 1992 and 2016.

  • Members of the LWVCC’s Voter Service Committee will meet with Edmund Michalowski, Deputy Cook County Clerk for Elections, in December and also hope to meet with officials at the Board of Elections of Chicago. They will share their observations about the election and discuss possible changes.

The changes made to the Illinois election law to make voting safer and more convenient during the pandemic were only temporary. They included expanded early voting, an emphasis on mail-in ballots, and the addition of drop boxes. Lawmakers and election officials will study how well they worked before making any of them permanent. 

The Cook County league joins with the Illinois league to support potential future legislation to strengthen overall voter protection by making some of these changes permanent.
April 6, 2021

Consolidated Elections in Suburban Cook County

The next voting opportunity will be the April 6 Consolidated Election on April 6, 2021. A few communities will also have Primary elections on February 23, 2021.

Offices on the ballot may include: Municipal (Mayor, Councilmen, Clerk and Treasurers), School Board, Township, Park District, Library, Community College Trustees, Fire Protection, Community Water and other special-purpose districts. Please note: The City of Chicago does not have any elections in 2021.

For a list of important dates, click here.

Cook County Board Approves Budget, Avoids New Taxes

Despite a pandemic that gutted government budgets across the country, the 17-member Cook County Board of Commissioners on November 24 unanimously approved a nearly $7 billion spending plan for 2021.

The plan did not include new taxes, fee increases, or a reduction in core services.

President Preckwinkle has said that the new $6.9 billion budget, which took effect on Dec. 1, continues to focus on making Cook County a more equitable place to live and work by investing in initiatives that help the most vulnerable residents.

The President’s priorities include addressing health care disparities made worse during the pandemic; investing in small businesses, and partnering with regional public transit agencies to reduce the cost of public transportation.

LWVCC Observer Pris Mims attended and wrote an Observer report about the Nov. 24 board meeting which can be accessed here

In the report, Pris noted that 19 amendments were unanimously passed to amend the budget, most of which were "technical" in nature, meaning they were corrections or updates which did not have an impact on the budget. 

In addition to approving the budget as amended, the Board took a separate action which may have particular interest for property owners. The action dealt with the Property Tax Relief Ordinance which provides that late fees will not be assessed for any payments of the 1st installment of the property tax bill, still due by March 2, that are made on or before May 3; and that late fees will not be assessed for any payments of the 2nd installment, still due by Aug. 2, that are made on or before Oct.1. This ordinance is in recognition of the pandemic and the financial toll it has taken on many residents and businesses. 

Observer Corps Grows in 2020

The Cook County League Observer Corps has increased in size over the last 18 months to 24 participants.

A sincere thanks to the LWVCC Observers for their dedication and hard work. They are Patricia Lind, Lisa Slankard, Pris Mims, Laurie Morse, Dianne Schmidt, Michelle Niccolai, Cynthia Schilsky, Diane Edmundson, Carolyn Cosentino, Susan Kern, Ann Bolan, Georgia Gebhardt, Kim Inman, Peggy Kell, Nancy Marcus, Jan Goldberg, Karin Hribar, Kathi Graffam, Amy Little, Laura Davis, Henrietta Saunders, Mary Ann Benden, Linda LaBuda, and Amber Elmer.

Any Cook County League member can be an Observer. Observers attend governmental meetings (virtually, due to the pandemic) and monitor issues being discussed and the process of the discussion. They write reports which are posted at www.lwvcookcounty.org and shared on LWVCC’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

For more information or to volunteer as an Observer, contact Diane Edmundson at dianedmundson@aol.com or Carolyn Cosentino at cose1814@comcast.net.

Criminal Justice Group To Discuss New Study

A new study entitled "Dollars and Sense in Cook County: Examining the Impact of General Order 18.8A on Felony Bond Court Decisions Pretrial Release and Crime," was sent to the Cook County League by its co-authors, David Olson and Don Stemen, of Loyola University of Chicago.

The LWVCC Criminal Justice Interest Group will discuss findings in the report at its January, 19, 2021 meeting at 9 a.m. via Zoom. To attend, contact Jan Goldberg at janbeatlesfan66@gmail.com.

General Order 18.8A was issued by Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans in the fall of 2017. The order assigned six new bond court judges to Cook County's Bond Court and instructed them to release non-violent detainees with low or no bonds. The researchers studied two groups of arrestees: the first from Nov. 2015 through April 2016, and the second, from Nov. 2017 through April 2018. The point was to compare the two groups, before and after the order.
  
The analysis found that there were no significant statistical differences between the two groups when it came to issues like failure to appear for court dates or rearrest rates for violent activity. More arrestees were given low or no bonds, thus decreasing the amount of detainees held at Cook County Jail to almost half the amount. 

--Jan Goldberg
 
Recent LWVCC Advocacy Actions
 Testimony, letters, and other actions taken to support LWVCC’s Positions

At the Cook County Board virtual meeting on Nov. 19, a public statement from the Cook County League was read concerning the 2020 3rd Quarter Report from the Office of the Independent Inspector General.

The League urged the Board of Commissioners to take all appropriate steps to ensure that the Board of Review will address and adopt each of the recommendations the Inspector General made with regard to the Board of Review’s hiring practices. The item referenced was sent to the Litigation Subcommittee.

In 2020, some 17 advocacy actions were taken, including the Nov. 19 public statement. To read a summary, click here.

Bureau of Administration Supports,
Coordinates, Manages County Programs

You may never have heard of The Bureau of Administration but it plays an important role in the functioning of Cook County government.

The BOA develops, coordinates, and manages programs to enable County departments to better serve citizens in a transparent, efficient, and cost-effective manner. Its Office of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) assists and supports Bureau departments on issues related to policy, personnel, procurement, budgets, and technology.

CAO also administers countywide activities including Printing and Graphic Services, Fleet Management, Records Management, Child Support Ordinance Enforcement, and Veterans' Affairs. Printing and Graphic Services, Fleet Management, and Records Management provide significant support services to all County departments and elected officials.

In the coming months, the Observer will share the functions and activities of the following Cook County departments: Adoption & Child Custody Advocacy, Animal & Rabies Control, Child Support Compliance Enforcement, Environmental Control, Department of Transportation and Highways, Law Library, Medical Examiner's Office, Printing and Graphic Services, Records Management, Research, Operations and Innovation (ROI), and Veterans Affairs.

Gift Idea for Doll Collectors of Any Age

As most Leaguers know, the year 2020 marks 100 years since the 19th Amendment was passed, granting American women the right to vote. An important leader in the crusade, Susan B. Anthony, fought valiantly for women's rights throughout her life. To celebrate this momentous anniversary, Mattel added a Susan B. Anthony Barbie doll (at right) to their Barbie Inspiring Women series. Check it out!
2020-2021 Cook County League Board Members 

OFFICERS: President: Cynthia Schilsky, LaGrange Area; Vice-presidents: Jan Goldberg, LaGrange Area and Karin Hribar Arlington Heights; Secretary: Betty Hayford, Evanston; Treasurer: Nancy Clark, Oak Park/River Forest.

BOARD MEMBERS: Carolyn Cosentino, Homewood/Flossmoor; Melanie King, Homewood/Flossmoor, Laura Davis, Palatine; Diane Edmundson, Park Ridge; Kathi Graffam, LaGrange Area; Peggy Kell, Oak Park/River Forest; Nancy Marcus, Winnetka/Northfield/ Kenilworth; Priscilla Mims, Chicago; Chris Ruys, Chicago; Mary Anne Benden, Arlington Heights; Michelle Niccolai, LaGrange Area; Ann Bolan, Oak Park-River Forest; Kim Inman, Palatine; Georgia Gebhardt, Wilmette; Dianne Schmidt, Glenview/Glencoe; Chris Slowik, Palos/Orland League, Lois B. Taft, Evanston.

Editor: Chris Ruys
Webmaster: Peggy Kell
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF COOK COUNTY
332 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 634
Chicago, IL 60604

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