DeKALB – During their second live candidate forum in a week, DeKalb County Clerk and Recorder candidates Democrat Linh Nguyen and Republican Tasha Sims discussed voting accessibility and how technology could improve it.
The forum took place on live radio WLBK-FM 98.9/AM 1360 on Tuesday ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
Nguyen, of DeKalb, teaches chemistry at Northern Illinois University and has a doctorate in computational chemistry. She said that in her job she has to write code and use advanced computer architecture, hardware and software to perform calculations on billions of data points, analyze the data and store it. Nguyen said she believes expertise makes her a qualified candidate for the position of clerk.
“So my IT knowledge of hardware and software would help me vet vendors that show up at the county clerk and recorder’s office so that I can choose the best service at the cheapest price,” said Nguyen.
Sims, of Kingston, is an executive assistant in the DeKalb County Administrative Office and has worked in county government for nearly 15 years, including in the county clerk’s office as a deputy clerk. That decade and a half of experience is what Sims says makes her a reputable candidate.
“I have grown both professionally and personally during my 15 years in DeKalb County Government and it has given me a good opportunity to understand not only how county government works, but how all the different units of the government are working together,” Sims said.
The position of clerk and recorder in an elected four-year office is responsible for a variety of government record keeping duties, and is also responsible for county-wide election administration. The clerk also maintains county records and business records, and provides notary and record search services.
Both candidates were asked how to make voting more accessible to DeKalb County residents. Sims said whether the Clerk’s Office reaches out to the public through traditional media or social media, “public education is key.”
“It will always be a challenge, we have a very diverse county,” Sims laments. “How do we reach every population, every demographic, how do we do that? So it’s always going to be an ongoing struggle. It’s the one I have no problem attacking.
Nguyen, former president of the League of Women Voters of DeKalb County, said she believes informed voters are the best advocates for democracy. Nguyen said she wants to establish text-based communications to alert DeKalb County voters to the information they need to vote efficiently and securely.
“We have to use social media. As President of the Women’s League Voters ahead of the 2020 election, I ran our three social media accounts,” Nguyen said. “And we have launched numerous voter education campaigns, and our posts have reached over 51,000 views. I am safe to say that our efforts partially contributed to the historic 75% voter turnout for the 2020 elections.”
Both candidates were also asked about the long lines on the campus of Northern Illinois University in previous elections. Sims said that by law there had to be a polling place on campus, but said she thinks the office can better inform students of the early voting options available to them.
“I feel like with my experience…I’ve worked on a lot of elections – that if I know there’s a problem at a polling place, I’m ready to step in and help where it is. there are needs,” Sims said, noting that students may be waiting in the wrong line.
Nguyen, who works at NIU’s campus, said she was “very aware of this issue” and mentioned that the county’s current and past electoral authority is cleaning up the voters list by sending new voter ID cards. voter based on the address of registered voters. Nguyen said she thinks this presents a problem for students living on campus who are being assigned new dorms — and therefore a new mailing address — before the fall semester, leading to potential loss of ID cards. voter information sent by mail and student voters who must re-register.
“So when they show up at the same polling station where they just voted last year – then they [are an] active voter – but they [are] is no longer on the list,” Nguyen said. “So they have to re-register and vote on the same day and that’s why the queue is long.”
To register to vote or check your voter registration status in DeKalb County, visit: www.dekalb.il.clerkserve.com/?cat=12