John A. 'Jack' Cunningham: 2022 candidate for Kane County Clerk
Occupation: Kane County Clerk, attorney, small business owner
Previous offices held: City of Aurora Board of Commissioners, Republican Precinct Committeeman since 1960
Q. Why are you running for this office? Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
A. There are a few things I would like to finish. Over the last 4 years, I'm proud that we opened a satellite office in Aurora. We have made significant progress and look to open a satellite office in Elgin very soon. Second, I'd like to move forward to the next generation of secure voting equipment during my next term. In 2005, we
purchased voting machines with input from the board and community, and I look forward to leading this process again. Finally I want to continue the work to make us the most transparent election authority in Illinois. We scanned all 80,000+ Vote by Mail (VBM) ballots for public review. I installed cameras in VBM
processing room, each focused on a particular step of the process so that poll watchers and the public can observe the process. Our website has vital records statistics, election results and other information going back decades. We have scanned and imaged many years of county records and continue to make these available for our residents.
Q. If you are an incumbent, describe two important initiatives you've led. If you're not an incumbent, describe two ways you would contribute to the position.
A. One initiative is improving our fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. I've tried to run the office like a business: Increase revenue and decrease expenses. Despite more unfunded mandates, I've been under budget and returned money to taxpayers every year. I eliminated management positions and cross trained staff. In Nov. 2020, we saved taxpayers $700k in postage/staff expenses through efficiency and automation of ballot printing, assembly, and processing. We have saved Kane County taxpayers over $1.5 million since 2018 by running elections in Aurora. When I took office, we generated $600k/year in revenue; now it's $1.55 million.
My office continues to seek new non-property tax revenue, like taking passport photos. I'm also proud of our Voter Outreach Program (VOP), where we partner with local businesses/governments to promote voter participation, including in-person Early Voting. Nearly half of Kane County voters vote early in general elections, more than double the amount before the VOP.
Q. How secure are you in the knowledge that election results in the county are reported fairly and accurately?
A. Yes, because we work diligently to have secure and transparent elections. I've always taken election security very seriously. Our entire system, including voting machines, is protected by an encrypted private network (not broadcast over the internet). Our certified voting machines have a paper trail to account for all ballots cast. We partner with state/federal cybersecurity agencies to test for vulnerability. We must continue to show the public how we verify that only registered voters who complete an application can receive a VBM ballot. We developed a color-coded system to educate voters how each step of the process works. Teams consisting of Rep. and Dem. election judges are present whenever ballots are handled. Cameras are focused on all stages of the process for the public to see. We use multiple levels of security and documentation for transparency and accuracy. Every ballot is accounted for from printing to tabulation. Voters can use our tracking system to track their ballots.