COUNTY CLERK

David Orr, County Clerk

312.603.5656

Mission

The Cook County Clerk is the chief election officer for Cook County. The office of the Cook County Clerk is committed to providing quality service to the public in a timely and efficient manner. The Election Division strives to ensure that all eligible suburban residents are able to exercise their rights in the electoral process; that all candidates have fair, open and equal access to all stages of the process; and that the public has access to open and transparent information.

The Clerk is also responsible for maintaining and providing various aspects of the real estate tax process, receiving and making available to the public statements of economic interests and lobbyist registrations, serving as Clerk to the County Board of Commissioners and provides birth, death and marriage certificates in Cook County.

Mandates

Authorized by Illinois Statute (55 ILCS 5/3-2000).

Key Activities and Services


  • Issues property tax rates, permanent real estate numbers and new tax codes, maintains real estate maps and processes redemptions of delinquent property taxes.
  • Prepares agendas, communicates actions taken by the Board through posting Board meeting documents, and maintains the Board’s legislative records and Code of Ordinances.
  • Administers elections for suburban Cook County’s 1.5 million registered voters, which entails voter registration, judge recruitment and training and polling place identification, mapping and management.
  • Directs activities related to preparation, programming, layout, testing and deployment of ballots, memory packs/results cartridges and equipment for Early and Election Day voting, as well as Election Night vote tabulation.
  • Recruits, assigns, trains and manages nearly 12,000 election judges and equipment managers.
  • Heads pre-Election Day voting programs, including Early Voting, Grace Period Registration and voting, Mail Voting, Military/Overseas Voting, Nursing Home Voting and Detainee Voting.
  • Operates, maintains, stores, repairs and pre-LAT (pre-election logic accuracy tests) all election equipment, including touchscreen machines, optical scanners, HAATs (Hybrid Activator, Accumulator and Transmitters) voting supply carriers, voting booths and ancillary parts.
  • Conducts Election Day Registration and manages voting activities and vote tallying.
  • Spearheads public policy initiatives at the state and local levels to improve elections administration.
  • Receives, processes and makes available to the public more than 22,000 Statements of Economic Interests filed annually, as well as lobbyist registrations and semi-annual reports.
  • Maintains and provides vital records including birth, marriage, civil union and death certificates dated since 1872. The Vital Records division also administers assumed business name registrations, notary commissions and an award-winning genealogy website.

Discussion of 2017 Department and Program Outcomes 

Providing excellent customer service in our Real Estate and Tax Services division is an ongoing goal. In 2017, the Clerk’s Real Estate and Tax Services division was again successful in assisting the county by calculating tax rates in a timely manner so that second installment tax bills were sent out with an August 1st due date. Our online 20-year tax search, which allows individuals and businesses to search overdue tax records on any PIN, continues to be heavily used to review payment status of properties. Last year, total page views climbed to 3,067,116 – a 24% increase over 2,481,523 in 2015. This 24/7 self-service tool continues to conserve staff resources. From January 1, 2017 – August 1, 2017, we have already experienced more than 1.2 million unique page views.

We have experienced improved production time from the recent GIS system upgrade, which was part of a county-wide project. We look forward to implementing e-government solutions for other records such as tax delinquency, tax sale judgment books and all budget, levy and bond information. Tax Services is also increasing outreach efforts, partnering with community organizations and leaders to ensure that all residents of Cook County understand tax delinquency issues, the information that is available and services provided by the County Clerk.

The Ethics division successfully launched two online filing systems for lobbyist registrations and reporting, as well as statements of economic interest filers. With the change in the lobbyist ordinance in 2014, the lobbyist online system was enhanced to incorporate the changes and improve the flow of the program as well as increase the ability to obtain more useful reports.

To reduce the costs associated with paper mailings and ensure compliance, the Ethics division has automated its communications with filers. A movement toward emails and calls to filers is the trend because it encourages timely filing and produces overall program efficiencies.

In 2017, we conducted successful Suburban Cook County Primary and General elections. Through continuous outreach efforts, a popular “Be Vocal. Vote Local” PR and Marketing campaign, for the first time in modern Suburban Cook County history we surpassed more than 1.5 million registered voters. With more voters than ever going to the polls before Election Day, the Clerk’s office harnessed technology to make voting more convenient.

The Clerk’s office and County’s GIS Department collaborated to develop a Wait Time Viewer – an interactive map on the Clerk’s website which shows real-time waits at our 52 Early Voting sites. The tool uses an algorithm that considers the number of people in line, the number of active check-in stations, and the speed of each check-in process to give voters an approximate wait time for each voting site.

This year also marked the first election for candidates using the Clerk’s new Running for Office Starter Kit (RFO), an online tool that assists candidates with finding and filling out the appropriate paperwork in order to run for office. Candidates running in 70 municipalities and 26 townships used the RFO tool for the April Consolidated election.

Since the RFO was launched last fall, 376 prospective candidates utilized the application to generate their candidate packets for the April 4 Consolidated Election. Of the original 376 prospective candidates to generate a candidate packet, 248 filed their paperwork in 129 contests and made it on the ballot – accounting for nearly 10 percent of all candidates (2,542).

Additionally, staff from the Clerk’s office visited the Cook County Department of Corrections to register eligible detainees to vote. Detainees requested their mail ballots when they registered to vote. Staff determined which ballot they needed, then, during the Early Voting period, our office and volunteers brought mail ballots to all detainees who requested them. Detainee voting for the Consolidated Election took place on Tuesday, March 28, when 150 detainees voted, of 257 who requested mail ballots.

Our office continued to press for the passage and implementation of Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) in Springfield. We worked with legislators and the Governor’s office to craft a bipartisan bill that would harness technology to clean and modernize Suburban Cook County’s voter rolls. The bipartisan legislation – which was passed unanimously by the state legislature this spring – was signed into law by the Governor on August 28, making Illinois the 10th state (+ D.C.) with Automatic Voter Registration. Once implemented, AVR will make our voter rolls cleaner and more inclusive, streamline the process of voter registration while taking the burden off the backs of eligible voters and shift the responsibility where it belongs – with government, all while being a natural registration fraud fighter.

In 2017, the Vital Records office worked with the Cook County Board of Commissioners to pass an amendment to a Vital Records ordinance that removes the fees for birth certificates for homeless residents, domestic violence survivors and recently released inmates.

The amendment to the Vital Records fees ordinance states that homeless Cook County residents or not-for-profit organizations representing them, individuals who have been released from the Illinois Department of Corrections or the Cook County Department of Corrections in the past 90 days and individuals residing in domestic violence shelters, may receive a copy of their birth record at no cost. The Clerk’s office is working with organizations such as the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, other social service organizations and groups that provide assistance to domestic violence survivors to ensure that all eligible persons know about this fee waiver. As persons who were born in Cook County but currently reside elsewhere are also eligible for free birth certificates, the Clerk’s office is directing some of these outreach activities to surrounding counties.

In the weeks ahead, the Bureau of Vital Records will launch a website allowing anyone seeking to marry in Cook County the opportunity to apply for a marriage license online. Both parties are required to appear in person at one of the Cook County Clerk's six locations to complete the application and obtain the marriage license, though this is expected to greatly reduce the amount of time that residents will spend in line at the customer service counter.

Within our outreach services the office holds informational sessions for numerous agencies, as well as consulates from France, Mexico, Germany, Poland, Pakistan, Serbia, Uruguay and Ukraine. During these sessions we share information on acquiring vital records, births, deaths and the issuances of marriage licenses that can assist citizens of Cook County, or people visiting from abroad.

Budget, Cost Analysis and 2018 Strategic Initiatives and Goals

The major cost driver for the County Clerk’s budget iscontracted salary increases and the end of the GIS reimbursement valued at$450,000.

  • Online Witness Slipping: The Clerk’s office is working with the Cook County President’s office and the Secretary of the Board to create an online witness slipping programing that will let residents and advocacy groups weigh in on pending legislation online. We will work over the next several months to finalize the technology required to implement a system similar to the one the Illinois Legislature uses. This service will hopefully encourage more Cook County residents to express their opinions on legislative matters before the Board of Commissioners.
  • New Website: By early 2018 our office will unveil a new website. The new platform will allow for a more robust architecture, including the ability to support complex content to go along with a new look and feel, decentralized content management and dashboard functionality for frequent site users.
  • Two-way Communication: With the introduction of an updated web portal in late 2017, we will begin providing two-way communications between the Clerk’s office and taxing districts for the 2017 tax year. This enhancement, will allow districts to file important documents such as levies and budgets electronically each year, which will then be used to calculate taxes in 2018. It will also facilitate an easier approval process by taxing districts once levies are reviewed by the Clerk.
  • Tyler Technologies: We continue to work closely with Tyler Technologies and other tax offices to ensure that Integrated Property Tax System (IPTS) is properly developed and implemented as planned, replicating all functionality in time for a calendar 2020 rollout.
  • Story Map Explainer: We have finalized a Story Map explanation of property taxes in Cook County using ArcGIS technology which will now provide helpful information to the public about how property taxes are calculated in Cook County.
  • Automation: With an RFP released in 2017, Tax Services will select a vendor and implement a new accounting and cashiering system for the entire office in 2018.
  • 2018 Gubernatorial Elections: In 2018, we will conduct the 2018 Gubernatorial Primary and General Elections. The Gubernatorial Election, along with the Presidential and U.S. Senate Elections, is one of the most closely watched and spotlighted elections that the Clerk’s office administers.
  • Election Equipment RFP: Our office also recently issued a Request for Proposals to procure new election equipment. Cook County last rolled out new election equipment in 2006. Our election equipment has served us well for a decade, but it has aged significantly. The public – as well as our poll workers –deserve the best election equipment that address the technological and security issues.
  • The new election equipment will cost an estimated $25-$30 million. Our goal is to test new equipment in some suburban Cook County locations as early as 2018. The Clerk’s office – in collaboration with the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners – hosted a demonstration expo for vendors earlier this year to showcase their balloting solutions, as both election authorities seek to replace their voting machines.
  • Running for Office Starter Kit 2.0: We will continue to build upon the success of the Running for Office Starter Kit and seek to expand its capabilities in 2018 while also increasing the number of RFO users for the 2018 elections. The RFO Starter Kit has already won numerous awards including the prestigious Innovator Award by the International Association of Government Officials and has been spotlighted by the Center for Technology and Civic Life.
  • Warehouse Consolidation: The Clerk’s office has been working in conjunction with Capital Planning to move our warehouse operation. This collaborative effort will save the County millions of dollars and lead to a more efficient election operation for our warehouse.
  • Data Integration: We will increase the public’s access to our data through the launch of the new Cook County Clerk website with integrated Tableau dashboards. This will provide the public an easy way to view and election results and other statistical data pertaining to elections.

Budget and Full Time Employee Data