Will County clerk won't tolerate voter fraud
Nancy Schultz Voots, county clerk for Will County, will not tolerate voting fraud in her county. Her statement comes in light of recent allegations of voting fraud and bribery in Kankakee County.
Residents in Kankakee County reported that they were offered bribes to vote for the Democratic nominees, and State Attorney Jamie Boyd stated that there were instances in which several vote-by-mail applications appeared to have come from people living outside of Kankakee County.
The Kankakee County Attorney General’s Office is also investigating possible voter fraud after three residents claimed they were offered bribes in exchange for voting for Democrats.
Voots said these types of alleged fraud will not fly in her county.
“We don’t allow that in our county,” Vootz told the Will County Gazette. “The voters have choices. They can vote by mail, they can early vote, or they can wait and go vote on Election Day. I encourage my residents in Will County to take advantage of voting at home because then they don’t have to worry about lines. They can vote in the privacy of their kitchen table.”
She said that her office has a series of checks and balances to prevent voting fraud if people send mail-in ballots. To make sure a voter doesn't get two votes, her office checks the signature on the envelope against the registered voters' database to ensure the signatures match with the voter and ballot.
“We have it all queued up on the system so if that person tries to go vote on Election Day, it is already flagged to show that they already voted by mail so they can’t vote again on Election Day or at early voting sites,” Voots said.
Vootz and her staff may need more assistance in diligently reviewing every mail-in ballot as there have been recent accusations of “stuff the ballot box” attempts by Democrats. A source close to the matter, who requested to remain anonymous, told the Will County Gazette that Democrats have dropped off thousands of vote-by-mail ballots in Lake and Will counties, as well as swelled the number of registered voters.
For example, a list of Lake County’s newly registered voters allegedly showed that the number of voters between the primary and general election almost tripled from 16,500 to 45,000 between 2014 and 2106.
According to the Will County Clerk Office, they have received 30,783 requests for vote by mail ballots, 30,228 requests were fulfilled and sent out, and 16,382 vote by mail ballots were received back as of this publication.
Despite the influx of ballots, Voots asserted that she is keeping a steady scrutinizing eye on every ballot. She has set up campaign-free zone pursuant to the law, which forbids any campaigning within 100 feet of the polling station.
She also has field techs assigned to polling places to keep the peace, and be on the lookout for intimidation, fraud or bribery.
“They have a check-off list of all the things they are supposed to be doing,” Voots said. “They go visit the polling place first thing in the morning to make sure all the equipment is up and running. They keep checking on polling places to make sure nobody is out there trying to bribe somebody to vote. They also are checking to make sure nobody is violating the campaign-free zone. They are constantly my eyes and ears at the sites.”
Voots is also working with the state attorney to make sure no fraud is taking place. The office has loaned her at least six attorneys who will be stationed in the office to double-check ballots.
While no fraud has taken place during her years as a county clerk, Voots asserted that she will continue to be vigilant when it comes to voting.
“I think all county clerks should be aware to prevent any kind (of fraud or bribery),” she said. “Most important is that – us as county clerks – we have to always remember the integrity of the election and to make sure that everyone is only getting one vote and you have to be a registered voter in order to vote.”
Voots concluded that her hard-working staff and volunteers - as well as on-site attorneys and sheriffs - will tackle any issue of fraud, intimidation or bribery that comes up.
“We have not had problems in the past,” she said. “I don’t consider this election to be any different than any of the other elections in the past because I'm going to do the exact same procedures I’ve always done to make sure that this doesn’t happen in my county.”