Candidates for county clerk are concerned there won't be enough judges and polling places during the upcoming election.
Vickey Leadingham, a records clerk in the sheriff’s office and president of the local AFSCME chapter, and Lori Bongartz, current chief deputy clerk, spoke at a forum hosted by the College Democrats of Illinois Valley Community College and suggested the number of available election judges are down from previous years.
“We are having a heck of a time trying to get judges this time from different areas,” Bongartz said, noting each political party must be represented. The office has reached out to local high schools and encouraged them to let students know they can serve in this capacity.
Leadingham commended Bongartz and the staff for trying to stir up interest. A two-hour class is required to become a judge, a job that pays $160 per election.
“That’s not bad for a day’s work. We don’t know what else to do. We’re going places and imploring people. So if you guys know anybody please call the office and we’ll put you to work,” Bongartz said to a room of roughly 25 to 30 college students.
Leadingham added it’s becoming difficult to get volunteers for any sort of work, but hopes the number of judges increases so the number of polling places does not drop.
“It’s hopeful that people would step up so that we wouldn’t have to reduce the number of voting places in La Salle County, because I think that would put a hardship on the residents if we would have to have a lesser number of polling places,” Leadingham said.
Possible foreign meddling hinders election possibilities
Also attending the forum were Democratic representative candidates for the 76th district Jill Bernal and Lance Yednock.
Yednock stated in an earlier question voting by phone or computer could improve voting numbers and require fewer judges, but a later question had the candidate back off that option.
One student in the crowd asked if foreign meddling in Illinois elections is a legitimate concern.
Bernal said it is possible, because if it happened at the federal level, then it could be possible at the state level.
Yednock agreed and said even though the technology would require fewer judges and would be easier to access, it’s also more susceptible to fraud.
“Ensuring that we can’t sway an election one way or the other just by a digit or two in a computer does concern me,” Yednock said. “Sometimes I guess we have to say the old ways of doing things are the best ways.”