COD Celebrates Constitution Day With Online Forum “Voting Laws: Suppression or Avoiding Fraud?”


Katie Toolan, Staff Writer

“Over my dead body!” Kaczmarek emphatically responded when she was confronted with voters that expressed concerns about mail-in ballots not being counted. She was one of the experts invited by COD to celebrate the signing of the Constitution with the virtual forum, “Voting Laws: Suppression or Avoiding Fraud?” While there were many issues discussed, one theme echoed by each of the presenters: voter fraud is virtually non-existent.  

The moderator of the forum was COD Associate Professor of Sociology Robert Moorehead, and the panel included the DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek, Matt Dietrich of the Illinois State Board of Elections, Ami Gandhi from the Chicago Lawyers for Civil Rights and Jim Madigan, a retired Deputy Director of Oak Park Public Library. 

The County took so many precautions to make the voting experience convenient and safe for everyone, Kaczmarek was so disappointed when people still risked their health to show up at the polls with their mail-in ballots. “ Why were seniors and the elderly and disabled people standing in line for an hour or two in the hot sun when they could simply vote by mail from their kitchen table?” Despite the pandemic and the misinformation about the validity of the election, in 2020, according to Kaczmarek, DuPage County had its highest turnout in history.    

Dietrich spoke about vote counting machines and the changes made to address the pandemic. The Voting Registration Systems Division handles the testing of voting equipment and systems. The issue of machines being hacked and votes being changed were concerns raised during and after the 2020 election. Dietrich explained this division’s primary role is to confirm the voter machines and systems are working properly. “They have to meet federal standards first,” Dietrich said

The Elections Operations Division, Dietrich explained, is responsible for many of the changes implemented because of the pandemic that were already being discussed.  “Some of those things have now been made permanent,” he said. “Curbside voting is now something that election authorities are now allowed to use if they want to.”  

Madigan and Gandhi addressed voting suppression. Gandhi spoke about how her organization works to prevent voter suppression and civil participation. “We believe the right to vote is fundamental to a healthy democracy,” she said. “Our team works to prevent barriers to voting and civil participation. Finding a way to ensure everyone is fairly represented is crucial.” She explained the steps taken to prevent voter suppression, specifically Black and Brown Communities. “Despite our incredible progress, locally and nationally over the decades to expand the franchise, the racist roots of the system, unfortunately still continue to show up in our elections leading to large gaps in voter registration and turnout that especially even to the day, even in Illinois, still impact black and brown voters, low income voters, non-English speaking citizens and and voters with disabilities among others.”  

Madigan pivoted the discussion to air his frustrations with the two prevailing parties and their efforts to prevent other parties from being represented on the ballot. “The two major parties collaborate in a variety of ways to ensure that there are as few possible choices,” he said. This leaves many issues on the table  because of under-representation, another possible reason why certain people are not voting, Madigan explained. The things that are important to these voters are not top priorities of the Democratic and/or Republican candidates. 

If you are not already registered, you don’t need to wait until the 28th. You can register on-line at