WIUM Tristates Public Radio

High Cost of Replacing Schock

Mar 31, 2015

Illinois law requires a special election to fill the seat being vacated by outgoing Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) within 120 days of him leaving office. 

The timeline for Governor Bruce Rauner is even tighter as he must set the dates for the primary and general elections within five days of the resignation becoming official.

McDonough County Clerk Gretchen DeJaynes said the special election will push her office over budget for the current fiscal year.

“In eight years, I have never been over budget and I don’t like to be over budget. But, there is just nothing I can do about it this year. It was not planned, it’s not in my budget, there’s just not a thing I can do about it,” DeJaynes said.

She anticipated it will cost the taxpayers about $60,000.

“I don’t know if I can do it for anything less than that,” DeJaynes said. “You have to have every polling place open, you have to have election judges, there will be the set-up and the take-down, there will be the ballot costs. Just because there’s only one race on it really does not lessen the cost of running the election.”

DeJaynes said Illinois’ election timeline contradicts federal law which requires a 45 day timeframe prior to an election to get military and overseas ballots out. There is some state legislation in the works that would length the 120 day deadline to 180 days.

So far, State Senator Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) is the only candidate to announce he is running. DeJaynes said even if other candidates do not come forward, the state requires a primary and general election be held.

Illinois law that goes into effect June 1, 2015 requires that same-day voter registration be offered. The state also offered it last fall on a trial basis. DeJaynes said it should be a voter’s last resort.

“You want to save that as a last ditch effort. It is time-consuming, it takes time, you will wait in line,” DeJaynes said. “We only have so much staff, we only have so much equipment.”

Schuyler County has not assessed the potential costs for the special election yet. Clerk Mindy Garrett said her office is focused on next week’s election.

Hancock County anticipates the special election will cost about $80,000. There is not money available in the county's budget to cover it.