Cook County Clerk David Orr on Wednesday presented his 2014 budget to the County’s Finance Committee, noting that his office has undertaken new initiatives in many areas, even as his budget has decreased by nearly $1.5 million.
Since 2010 – the most comparable election year – the Clerk’s office’s budget is down $1.47 million and the number of employees has been cut by 32.
“We continue to do more with less,” Orr said. “Our election fund alone is down $1 million when compared to 2010, yet we’ve adopted several new election changes, such as moving early voting closer to Election Day and no-fault mail balloting.”
2014 will bring a host of new election innovations, including online voter registration and 17-year-olds voting in the primary.
Orr’s office continues to implement time and money-saving initiatives in many areas. These include: adding two million genealogy records to the office’s Genealogy Online site; upgrading the Assumed Business Names database; implementing the online 20-year tax search; and launching new products like Civil Union licenses and Commemorative Certificates.
Orr pointed out the Clerk’s office’s revenue exceeds its corporate budget by about $800,000. “In other words,” Orr said, “our non-elections operations are funded entirely by the revenue we collect.” The Genealogy site also has proven to be very popular with Cook County residents and genealogists alike, recently breaking the cumulative revenue mark of $2 million.
In a question-and-answer session with County Commissioners following his address, Orr discussed emerging technology in voting, serving diverse populations with bi-lingual voting materials and election judges, encouraging schools to have an Institute Day for elections, and weekend voting.
And while primary elections, particularly in non-presidential election years, have lower turnouts, Orr assured the commissioners, “We’re going to do everything we can to encourage a big turnout” in the March 18 primary.