The mission of the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago is to administer a transparent, impartial and accurate election system. This includes managing voter registrations; safeguarding the rights of all voters to cast ballots independently in a safe and quiet atmosphere, free of interference or intimidation; and informing voters of all of their balloting options, such as Election Day voting, Early Voting and Vote By Mail. The Board serves as the quasi-judicial arm of the courts directly responsible for performing all statutory duties under federal and state election codes.
Election Board Organization Chart
Meet the Commissioners
Commissioner Marisel A. Hernandez, Board Chair
Marisel A. Hernandez has served on the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners since February 2007, rising to the post of Chairwoman in December 2016. Chairwoman Hernandez was the first Hispanic to serve on and lead the Board, as well as the first woman to serve as Chair.
The Chicago Board of Elections is one of the nation’s largest election authorities, serving more than 1.6 million voters across the city. Under Hernandez’s leadership, the Board has worked to modernize Chicago’s election system, including updating voting and e-pollbook equipment, improving IT and cybersecurity systems, and increasing access to Early Voting and Voting By Mail. Hernandez also serves as the leader of the Chicago Electoral Board, which determines and decides ballot access for candidates. Under her tenure, the Chicago Board has become a national leader in the hiring, training, and assignment of thousands of high-school students every election cycle to serve as Election Judges.
Hernandez is of Counsel with the law firm of Jacobs Burns Orlove & Hernandez LLP, where she concentrates on labor and employment law and represents both public and private employee benefit plans and labor organizations. Hernandez previously served as a trial attorney with both the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the National Labor Relations Board.
Hernandez has served on a number of boards, including the Board of the IIT Kent-Chicago Law School Institute for Law and the Workplace. She also served on the Gary-Chicago Regional Airport Authority, and on the Boards of the Golden Apple Foundation, the Center for Conflict Resolution, and the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. Hernandez is a member of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, the Puerto Rican Bar Association and a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.
Hernandez graduated from New York University School of Law in 1982. She received a master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration in 1981 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University in New York City, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Marisel and her husband, Steven, who reside in the Hyde Park area, are the parents of a daughter and two sons.
Commissioner William Kresse, Board Secretary
William J. Kresse is one of three Commissioners on the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. He is also an Associate Professor in the College of Business at Governors State University in University Park, Illinois, where his teaching and research centers on Fraud Examination, Auditing, and Accounting. He is the President of the nonprofit Institute of Election Auditors, has worked as an attorney at major law firms in Chicago, as a CPA at two leading public accounting firms, and as the CEO of an information retrieval company.
Kresse is an Attorney, a CPA who is Certified in Financial Forensics, and a Certified Fraud Examiner. He previously served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Abraham Lincoln Marovitz of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Kresse holds a BBA in Accountancy from the University of Notre Dame, an MS in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a JD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was named “Educator of the Year” by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and has authored numerous academic and professional articles and has conducted many academic and professional seminars. He has also served on the boards and audit committees of several nonprofit organizations.
Kresse has made countless television and radio appearances, including on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, FOX, NPR, CBC, Inside Edition, and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. He hosted a program on WGN Radio and has been quoted in many publications, including the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, and Dallas Morning News.
Commissioner June A. Brown
Commissioner June A. Brown grew up in Bessemer, Alabama, and worshiped in the shadow of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Her work in civil rights and voters' rights was informed by her exposure to the inspirational leadership of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
As a child, she witnessed the daunting efforts and immeasurable hardships suffered by activists, known and unknown, who sought fairness for Black Americans who were facing tremendous obstacles to voting. The many powerful and emotional conversations with family and community surrounding the passing of the 1965 Voting Rights Acts made an indelible impression on her and still drives her commitment to ensuring open, fair, and equitable elections.
Brown has presided over hearings in elections for both Chicago and Cook County Electoral Boards; worked at Election Central for federal, state, and local elections; and served as an appointed public member for electoral boards. She has continued to hone her skills through her work as an administrative law judge, arbitrator, mediator, and training facilitator.
She has served as a judge and mentor with International Law School Competitions, as the Chair of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, as an appointed member of the Kogan Committee and the Public Affairs Committee with the Chicago Bar Association. She currently serves as a Co-Chair of Outreach for the ABA Dispute Resolutions Section.
Brown is a graduate of UIC Law School (formerly John Marshall Law School) and the University of Southern California. She also completed studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
The Board's History
During the 1800s, election reform movements swept through major cities across the country. Some of the reforms focused on removing elected officials from controlling their own elections, and instead assigning independent election professionals to manage voter registration and administer elections. Civic leaders led a campaign for these reforms in Chicago. Among the leaders of the movement was Chicago Tribune Editor-In-Chief Joseph Medill, who also had served as Mayor immediately after the Chicago Fire.
The most common election reform model involved the creation of an independent Board of Election Commissioners, whose members could neither be elected officials nor participate in political campaigns. Under this system, a Board of Election Commissioners serves as an extension of the Judicial branch - the same branch that also decides other election matters, such as whether candidates qualify for the ballot and post-election recounts.
At the urging of the civic leaders, Springfield lawmakers approved a law in 1885 that gave the voters in any Illinois municipality the ability to vote to create a local Board of Election Commissioners. As the City of Chicago was still comprised of townships, separate referenda were conducted in each township. Overwhelming majorities of voters in every Chicago township voted to create one Board of Election Commissioners for the entire city. Cook County became like many other major jurisdictions in the United States: an Election Board managing voter registration and election administration in the central city, and an elected County Clerk managing elections in the suburbs.
The three members of the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago are appointed by the Cook County Circuit Court to three-year terms. In a 3-year cycle, one Commissioner's term expires each year. By law, the Board membership must include at least one member from each of the state's two leading political parties. Based on ballots cast in primary elections, those parties are the Democratic and Republican parties. A prospective Commissioner's political affiliation is determined by his or her record for selecting ballots at Primary Elections.
The Chicago Election Board oversees one of the largest election operations in the United States with approximately 1.7 million registered voters in 1,291 precincts. The Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago sets policies for the agency and manages the activities of the Executive Director related to voter registration programs and election management, equipment, budgeting, purchasing and human resources.
Serving also as the Electoral Board, the Commissioners also decide matters related to which candidates qualify for the ballot for all City offices. The Electoral Board also determines ballot access in state legislative and Congressional districts that are entirely within Cook County if any portion of the districts are in Chicago. Electoral Board decisions can be appealed in the Courts.
In most years, the Board administers two citywide elections. The Board staff of approximately 130 full-time employees maintain the records, program equipment and make preparations throughout the year. Central to the Board activities are year-round preparations so that the agency can train and deploy 9,000 temporary poll workers to serve in the polling places on Election Day and report election results after the polls close. Under the direction of the Board and its Executive Director, the full-time staff oversee: the management of voter registration systems; mapping systems for precincts and districts; preparation of the ballots; designation and renting of polling places; hiring and training of judges of election, poll workers and investigators; management of the warehouse; programming, testing and shipping of election equipment to and from the polling places; and reporting, canvassing and archiving all election results and related data from each election.