A recent story by The Associated Press described how Illinois is considering allowing county clerks to lower the number of election judges.

In a state with an electoral history such as ours, this is a misguided idea at best. Five judges are required in each precinct. The plan would allow counties to go down to three. The idea is to make it easier for counties that cannot find enough judges.

Three judges could work a slow election with no controversy. But Illinois is a state that allows same-day voter registration. When a citizen shows up to register, it can consume the time of the election judges. Documents and addresses need to be checked. The collected data needs to be entered into the system. In a busy election, the line could back up quickly.

Having multiple judges ensures balance in the system. Under ordinary circumstances, each political party is entitled to at least two judges in every precinct. Cutting it to one representative per precinct puts a lot of pressure on a single person.

Being an election judge is a labor of love. Judges are paid but work long hours without a break. Most, but not all, voters are respectful and appreciative.

For sure, it is not always easy to find judges. Better civic education in high schools and colleges is one possibility. That has been used effectively in Kankakee County, and the county has taken an additional step by allowing high school seniors to serve as judges.

Seek out other solutions such as these. Fewer judges is not the answer.

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