Today, the US House of Representatives voted to advance the Equal Rights Amendment by removing its arbitrary ratification deadline. This is an important step towards adding the ERA to the Constitution and creating a more equal democracy.
Today, we celebrate the House’s vote, but tomorrow our fight moves to the Senate.
The Peoria County Board of Election Commissioners met on March 11, with Dr. Arun Pinto absent and Marl Ketterer attending by phone.
The canvas for the primary election was to be signed later that day. There was a 15.57% turnout for that election, with 40% voting early, either in person or by mail. With a two vote difference in the election for Township Supervisor, there could be a discovery recount. Frank Abdnour has five days from March 16, to ask for up to 25% of 88 precincts to be recounted. If discovery shows a discrepancy, then his campaign can go to court.
In the report of Director Tom Bride on the April 6 general election, he said that 71 ballots have been mailed to county residents and 2000 will need to be sent to city residents. There are 306 different ballot styles in the County.
Staff will be setting up polling places on the Monday before the election, as they did during the primary. This helped things go more smoothly on election day. They have started seeing problems with the sixteen year old election machines.
Canvas will be held on April 21.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
The Peoria County Election Commission met on February 9, 2021, with all members present except Mr. Ketterer who attended by phone.
Everything seems to be going smoothly in getting ready for both the February primary and the April general election.
The Verizon bill that had been wrongly coded leading to an enormous bill has been corrected.
Federal Warehouse was awarded the contract to move voting equipment to and from the polls for both elections. They were approximately $500 less than Mordu and have done a good job in the past.
Locations and times for early voting before the April 6 election will be the same as for the November election starting March 12 outside of those locations that have a primary. One exception will be no polling at the downtown library on Easter Sunday. The Election Commission office will need to be open that day because of state law.
Ballots for the April 6 consolidated general election will be sent out starting February 25 to those voters outside of the City of Peoria. There are 306 different ballot styles in the County!
$19,430 of left over funds from the grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life will be put into the FY2021 budget, with approval by the County Board. The Center granted an extension for use of those funds until the end of July. Director Bride anticipates that the funds will be used primarily for expenses related to Covid-19.
There are approximately 73,000 registered voters in Peoria County. As of February 9, 1950 had asked to vote by mail, 950 had voted early, and 772 had sent back their ballots. The canvas for the primary will be held on March 11.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
The January 2021 meeting of the Peoria County Election Commission was held remotely and live streamed on Facebook. All commissioners were in attendance.
The regular board meeting was preceded by an Electoral Board meeting. Objections had been filed to the nominating papers of Abby Humbles for Dunlap School Board. The petitions had been reviewed on January 8, and found to be in order. Abby Humbles will be on the ballot.
$90,000 of the $109,544 Center for Tech & Civic Life Grant has either been spent or is spoken for. A report is due by the end of January, but funds can be spent until this summer.
Early voting has started for the February 23 primary election. 200 voters have already asked for ballots. The only partisan election is the Democratic primary for Peoria township.
Federal Warehouse was rewarded the contract for moving equipment for the general election April 6.
Early voting for that election will start in the election office on February 25 for those precincts outside of the city of Peoria. Those city elections which are involved in the primary will not be ready until March 11 or 12.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
The December meeting of the Peoria County Election Commission was held on December 8, 2020, at the County Courthouse with all members present. In discussing expenditures, Director Tom Bride said there is plenty of PPE left over for the spring elections.
Break down of the November 3 election: 72.56% total turnout with 35% vote by mail, 31% early voting, and 34% voting on election day. The total number of voters was just under 85,000. For the February 23 primary, the list of primary candidates should now be on the website, early and by mail voting begins on January 14. Filing for school boards will be between December 14 and 21. Some problems with on line requests for primary ballots is being worked on. The office is planning on using Ballot Trax again.
The Peoria County Board of Election Commissioners met on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, with only Commissioner Burke absent. Under Approval of Expenses: the only thing of note was a mistake on the Verizon bill. They charged $67,000 instead of the $4000 that should have been charged. It seems they wanted to be paid for increased use for the whole year instead of just the short period of additional use during the election.
Peoria County received $246,000 from the CARES Act, and everything had to be reported by the coming Friday. Director Bride said $56,000 still remains, but has probably already been spent. The Postage Grant was for $87,575, but only about $60,000 has been used. The CTCL grant has very few limitations on the use of $75,000, and Director Bride is hoping to use all of this. He is considering hazard pay for election day judges, but wants to see what other jurisdictions are doing.
The Election Office actually received four ballots that day, mostly from overseas, and they had 20-25 that were challenged. The breakdown for how people voted went like this: approximately 39,000 vote by mail, 31,000 election day voting, and 29,000 early voting. 355 provisional ballots needed to be adjudicated before the November 17 certification date. Vote totals surpassed the 2008 presidential election. Over 10,000 voters signed up for Ballot Trax.
The current voting equipment will probably be fine for the spring elections, but it is obviously at the end of its useful life..
Public comments included a complaint of more training needed on when to use provisional ballots. There seemed to be one precinct in particular where this was an issue.
Irene Pritzker, Observer
The Peoria County Election Commission held its monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 8, with all members present. Executive Director Tom Bride explained the State guidelines for PPE for the upcoming election, what they are, what has been purchased, and which will be reimbursed. Each polling place will need separate entries and exits and someone to monitor social distancing. Online videos will be used to train election judges. These will include information on use of PPE (hand sanitizer, face shields, and alcohol wipes) in addition to normal judges' training. Masks cannot be mandated for voters, but they will be encouraged.
As of September 8, the Election office had received approximately 23,000 requests for Vote By Mail. About 5500 of those were received on line. Any requests received by October second must be mailed by October 6. Voters will be able to track their ballots on line. If another person physically returns a ballot to the Election Commission, an affidavit must be signed. That is not necessary if the ballot is mailed or put in a drop box. The election office has received 200-225 applications for judges, with a goal of 400-500. Some judges have declined to work this year.
Director Bride presented the Commission's proposed budget to the County. The only concern seemed to be from where money for the new voting system would come. The final budget may get tweaked, but so far it was deemed acceptable.
Chris Schmidt, Connie Romanus, & Irene Pritzker
Chairman Steve Morris called the regular monthly meeting of Peoria City County Landfill Committee to order on August 19, 2020, at 3 p.m. via Zoom or phone access, which was posted on the city Solid Waste Landfill Committee website ahead of the meeting. Member Zach Oyler was absent. No meeting had been held in July. There were no public comments during the citizens opportunity to address the committee at the beginning of the meeting.
A new business item was a request for discussion regarding the current state Pollution Control Board review of coal ash regulations and what that might mean to the landfill and if the committee might consider a comment letter. WM said that coal ash should not be mixed with municipal solid waste as it interfe res with methane gas production and has other problems. Since the current WM landfill is filling its last area, any plans for coal ash would need to focus on the new Landfill #3. PDC agreed that coal ash needs to be in a monofill. Chairman Morris asked what would be a typical tonnage for coal ash from a power plant. Mr. Coulter commented that at other locations from ½ million to 2 million tons capacity were needed. Foth Engineering will look into this and have some figures for the next meeting. Committee member Williams asked for a refresher on coal ash and issues with it and that will also be planned. Foth did a screen share of a comment letter the Landfill Committee had done several years ago. Committee member Fox said he would consider the current situation similar to what the Committee did before and asked that this topic be on the agenda for the September Committee meeting.
Vice Chairman James Fennell presided at the Peoria County Board meeting's regularly scheduled second Thursday 6 p.m. board meeting with the absence of Chairman Andrew Rand. Member Windish was also absent. Board members and staff were sitting with social distancing and COVID masks in the County Building board room with members Salzer and Daley participating by phone. Members of the public could watch the meeting live via Facebook or YouTube and at different times on Cable Access 22. (Public comments were to be sent to the County Clerk by 3 p.m. on the day of the board meeting and would be read into the record.) County Clerk Rachel Parker read public comments from the following in support of the agenda item regarding the Hanna City Trail: 1) from Roberta English, Wildlife Prairie Park, trail will enhance the Park and be a benefit to the county; 2) Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, benefits of the proposed trail include recreation, added property value, tourism regional attraction; 3) Heart of Illinois Group Sierra Club, Rock Island Trail shows economic values and growth from trails including preservation of a green corridor; 4) Brett Baker, Bike Peoria, petition with 1,719 signatures in support of the trail and urge that funding be secured to acquire the trail.
The first Resolution was the Intergovernmental Agreement between Peoria County, the City of Farmington, Fulton County, and Village of Hanna City for the formation of the Hanna City Trail Negotiation Commission. County Administrator Scott Sorrel explained that the main purpose was establishing a body that could proceed with grant applications. Hanna City Mayor Winteroff was in the audience. The project would acquire 24.7 miles of right-of-way that has been rail-banked for years. Board member Sharon Williams was credited with her earnest work on this project since she became a Peoria County Board member and she would be the Board representative on the Negotiation Commission. The significance of this effort is the Federal Government has said this is the last chance for the trail section to be purchased as previous extensions of time have been approved. If the project cannot go forward the land will be released from rail-banking and sold. The goal is to apply for federal grant funding which will cover 80% of the purchase. Twenty per cent is to be a local match and state grants could pay up to half of that. The Board would allocate $170,225.80 as it’s pledge for the funding to come from the Keystone Fund, which is used exclusively for economic development purposes. Mr. Sorrel explained that trail projects like this are classic examples of economic development. Rural area Board member Paul Rosenbaum commented that he had a call from a subdivision resident near Wildlife Prairie Park who is on the subdivision council and strongly urged support for this on behalf of the subdivision. Sharon Williams spoke to receiving calls and communications in support. Board member Dillon thanked Mrs. Williams for her persistence on this project and gave his support. Brian Elsasser said this is a very worthy project as did Kate Pastucha. Vice Chairman Fennell said he had calls in support and others spoke to strong support. The Resolution passed unanimously.
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