Maintaining a voter registration system is a function that every county in Illinois is required to perform.

Fortunately, Tazewell County has recently received federal funding to maintain its own voter rolls. According to John Ackerman, Tazewell County Clerk and Recorder of Deeds, the county is the recipient of a $62,490 grant through the Illinois State Board of Elections. The funds are awarded annually to Illinois counties to cover the cost of voter databases.

“In Illinois, the state doesn’t handle the voter database and the voter registration rolls,” said Ackerman. “It’s handled by each individual county. Her in Tazewell County, it’s maintained by the county clerk’s office.” 

Illinois Voter Registration System grant funds are used specifically for assisting with maintenance and other costs associated with a county’s voter registration system, according to Ackerman. Some of the services the funding will offset include mailing out new voter registration cards after the county’s recent redistricting, computer maintenance, and keeping Tazewell County voter rolls updated. Without federal funding, Tazewell County would have to pay for its own voter registration system maintenance. 

“It’s a task that has to be done one way or the other,” said Ackerman. “If we didn’t get federal funds, we would have to take (money) out of the general fund, which is drawn directly from property taxes.”

Ackerman added that the amount of the annual grant had been traditionally been $44,490 until 2018, when it was increased to its current $62,490 per year. The increase in the grant amount came about as a result of an in-depth study by Tazewell County Clerk’s Office staff to find ways to maximize federal funding.  

“We stretched the boundaries further, applying (funding) to more things than we had previously, including postage and other items,” Ackerman said.

The effort to maximize federal funding for county services is part of an endeavor to minimize the burden on local taxpayers, said Ackerman. He anticipates that his office will receive more federal funding through various other grants in the coming months.

“We want to utilize every bit of (federal funding) we can so we won’t have to turn to local taxpayer dollars to pay these expenses,” he added. “We’re trying to find every way we can to get federal or state grant funding to pay for more and more of what we do. We’re happy to have this. It’s a great partnership with the State Board of Elections and the federal government.”