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Clerks concerned about taxpayer cost, confidence around ranked choice voting

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(The Center Square) – County clerks shared their concerns with an Illinois task force looking into the possibility of changing how elections are conducted.

Ranked-choice voting allows people to rank the candidates, with “one” being their favorite. The votes are tallied in rounds. If no candidate wins a majority of voters’ first-choices, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, according to information from FairVote, an organization that advocates for ranked-choice voting.

Some states have banned the process like Idaho, Tennessee, Montana and Florida. In Illinois, a task force is looking at implementing the idea.

The Illinois Ranked-Choice Voting and Election Systems Task Force continues to meet to get feedback about possibly launching such a system in 2028.

Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray attended the most recent hearing. He shared concerns about the added resources and taxpayer cost.

“Every time that we add a multiple page ballot, there’s a greater expense. It takes more people to facilitate, communicate and understand how to cast this for an election so expense is going to go up for election judges,” Gray told The Center Square. “We’re just not properly in the right foundation yet to facilitate, I think, impactfully of a ranked choice voting election.”

Gray also worried transparent, accurate and expedited results and trust and confidence in the system could be impacted.

“And in this form of election, in ranked choice, it requires to have all of the forms of data within it. Statute today, we don’t have a finalized result until 14 days after an election. We gotta get all those late-qualified ballots back on time,” Gray said. “So, we want to have trust and confidence in the system.”

Co-chair of the task force, state Rep. Maurice West said they are hearing everyone out.

“Everyone who came, their voice was heard, their opinions were heard, and will be taken into consideration,” West, D-Rockford, told The Center Square.

The next hearing scheduled for Tuesday will look at all of the potential equipment that would be needed to implement such a system, he said.

The task force is to produce a report with the idea of utilizing the system for the 2028 presidential primary election.

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