Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Board of elections may provide primary info

By Jamey Dunn

Voters may soon look to the State Board of Elections for information on candidates in primary races.

Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, said that her bill, which would require the board of elections to create voter guides for the primary, is not a direct response to this month’s election and noted that she filed the legislation in January.

However, she did say the election, with its tight races and low voter turnout, underscored the need for voters to be more informed about the candidates. She said including primary candidates in the voter guides — which contain basic information submitted by each candidate — that the board of elections now provides for general elections would be a good start.

“It’s a starting place for voters who want to know more — to figure out that there is a crowded field and who looks like a candidate I might want to support,” Currie said.

The Republican primary race for governor, with a field of six candidates, has yet to produce a winner. Sen. Bill Brady from Bloomington leads Sen. Kirk Dillard from Hinsdale by about 400 votes. Counties finish the count of all their absentee and provisional ballots today, but Dillard said he is not making a decision about concession until the votes are officially reported to the board of elections next Tuesday.

Two relatively unknown candidates won their parties’ nominations for lieutenant governor. The Republican candidate, Jason Plummer, is 27 years old, and some have questioned his experience. The former Democratic nominee, Scott Lee Cohen, announced he would step aside last week after allegations of domestic violence in his past created a storm of controversy. Currie’s fellow Democrats have since been criticized for not properly vetting Cohen.

HB 4842 passed in the House with no opposition today. If it passes in the Senate and is approved by the governor, the board of elections would have to add primary races to the voter guides it already publishes on its Web site. The races the board is required to include are for the presidency, U.S. Congress and statewide constitutional offices.

Daniel White, a spokesman for the board of elections, said that adding more entries to the guide should not add cost because it is published online and the candidates are responsible for submitting their information.

“We’re looking at it in terms of providing another tool for voters. … It certainly would be a good place for voters to begin taking a look at the candidates,” he said.

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