Sharon Meroni’s One-Woman Crusade Against Voter Fraud in Illinois — and how you could do some of this in your own state
Sharon Meroni is a one-woman crusade against voter fraud in the state of Illinois…and she’s amazing to watch in person (or in YouTube videos) because she’s made it her personal mission to force compliance with Illinois’ election laws here in Chicago and in greater Cook County. It’s shocking how much voter fraud and illegal activity happens in our election system just because the general public never forces Boards of Election to actually comply with existing requirements in a state’s election-governing statutes.
Sharon is a mom from the Chicago suburbs who founded Defend the Vote, the very first organization of its kind meant to target voter fraud and prevent it in what’s arguably the most corrupt state in the union. Prior to starting up this group two years ago, Sharon was never involved in politics and actually was a corporate headhunter; Defend the Vote just sort of happened because Sharon saw the need for something like it and decided to stop waiting for someone else to make it happen. So began working every day to make herself an expert in Illinois election law…and then set out to audit the process in this state to see just how much shenanigans the various election entities in Illinois were up to.
I’ve been following her work in the lead up to (and aftermath of) the 2012 election and have actually started attending Boards of election meetings on my own, too, so I can see in person the sort of things Sharon describes on Defend the Vote’s own site. It’s shocking how some of these Board Members treat citizens in Illinois and how unserious they are about voter fraud.
There are actually three different election entities that impact life in Chicago; listed in order from most professional to absolutely ridiculous, they are:
* The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (which covers the City of Chicago itself)
* The Illinois State Board of Elections (covering the whole state)
* The Cook County Clerk’s Office (which handles “suburban Cook County”, which is the part of Cook County that’s not Chicago itself)
It’s surprising, but the City of Chicago election officials are actually very nice to deal with…and remain professional during their board meetings. Sharon Meroni caught the City of Chicago illegally using the wrong documents to verify signatures on absentee ballots…and immediately after she brought this to their attention they swooped in and corrected what was happening…and even apparently took measures to correct the mistakes they made on about two hundred thousand ballots (proof that they made the correction is still forthcoming, but at the last Board Meeting the Executive Director Lance Gough told Sharon that he’d sent her a written report showing the changes and corrections they made in the matter). It actually seems like the people on the City’s Board want the elections to be free of fraud and incompetence…but they just don’t have anyone focused on identifying problems. When someone like Sharon takes the time to observe problems and report on them, the City Board seems to listen and doesn’t waste time addressing what’s wrong.
It’s a completely different story with the State Board of Elections in Illinois, with the Board in this case behaving like clowns and buffoons at their meetings. Large amounts of time are taken up at State Board meetings talking about matters unrelated to the actual elections: sugar cookies, employees who have been with the Board for many years and who wanted their resumes read aloud for some reason, various personal gripes the Board members have about life in general, what people are doing for fun that coming weekend, etc. When Sharon’s attended State Board meetings, the Board Members treat her derisively and say ridiculous things to her like, “You’re not a member of the Board!” or “We’ll only listen to you for 10 minutes and then you have to shut up!”. Meanwhile, there’s no limit to the amount of time that can be spent talking about sugar cookies. The State Board has no interest in hearing about security flaws or illegal activity in its election system…and in fact takes the attitude that “nothing’s wrong and we don’t want to hear about anything being wrong because we don’t want to fix anything!”. They remind me a lot of an after-school club in high school that puts on rallies and things, only they don’t do all that great a job doing it but they are seniors so they “rule the school” and no one can tell them otherwise. They are absolute clowns, every last one of them.
Then there’s the weird entity that is the Cook Count Clerk’s Office, which has been run by a petty tyrant named David Orr since 1992. He just keeps getting reelected, largely because Republicans don’t bother to run anyone against him and he’s a key part of the Chicago political machine so he’s never challenged in any sort of primary. He’s, thus, one of the Illinois aristocrats of the Left who keep things going “the Chicago way” perpetually. The Clerk’s Office is not required to hold any public meetings and there is no mechanism to force David Orr or anyone who works for him to answer questions from the public. All someone like Sharon Meroni can do is submit FOIA requests, which the Clerk’s Office is required to respond to eventually. But, since there is no Board and no public meetings, the Clerk’s Office operates almost entirely in shadows…and does all sorts of things that violate state election law. David Orr gives the impression he’s quite proud of this.
Once you start looking into this stuff, it’s amazing how much everyone involved with elections hates when the public starts paying attention to them. Even professional people like those on the City of Chicago Board of Election Commissioners don’t like public scrutiny. They aren’t used to it, they have never had to deal with this before, and they largely don’t know how to behave themselves when questioned by citizens.
There’s some kind of meeting or observable event for at least one of the election bodies covering Chicago every other day or so, it seems…and the moment one election is finished they all start gearing up for the next one. In Chicago’s case, there are primaries in February for April’s local elections. There’s also going to be a big mess caused by Jesse Jackson Jr’s meltdown and resignation from Congress. And then before any of us can believe it, we’ll have the 2014 elections and their own primaries just around the corner. It never ends.
And none of it will ever get any better unless regular people start taking an interest in all of this.
I think we’re really lucky to have someone like Sharon Meroni here in Chicago, making it her personal mission to become an expert in all things election-related. I know she’s having an impact just by how unhinged she makes the Illinois State Board and by how much they clearly dislike her presence at their meetings. If they were competent people with nothing to hide who were doing their jobs effectively, then they wouldn’t care a lick that Sharon is taking an interest in them. Just imagine how their counterparts would act in YOUR home state if you made elections and ballot-integrity your own mission where you live.
It’s a lot of reading, going to meetings, and hard work…but the payoff can be pretty big. Sharon Meroni caught the City in illegal activity and forced them to correct themselves. Who knows what she’ll catch next…or what YOU could help catch happening in your own part of the country.
© 2012, Kevin DuJan. All rights reserved.
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