County to debut new voting machines in Proviso Township

Less susceptible to hacking, election officials say

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Brand new voting machines are coming to polling places in Brookfield and North Riverside within Proviso Township for the April 2 Consolidated Election.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough announced that the county is rolling the machines out in all 102 precincts within Proviso Township, along with the 45 precincts in Oak Park and River Forest townships.

Yarbrough, who made the announcement during a March 26 press conference held in Chicago, said that the new machines are more accessible, user-friendly and efficient than the old ones.

"Our current equipment has served us well for a decade, but these new machines have the latest technology and security measures. Along with more intuitive and accessible equipment, voters will be able to review their printed ballot – in hand – before their vote is cast," Yarbrough said.

"We expect these machines will speed up tabulation of votes at the end of the night," she said, "and any issues with ballots that occur on Election Day or with mail ballots should be resolved quicker and more efficiently."

Locally, the machines will be available for voters in Proviso Precinct 102, the lone Proviso Township precinct in North Riverside. The machines will also be rolled out at polling places for the six Proviso Township precincts in Brookfield, all of which are located north of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved the new machines last year. The equipment costs around $31 million over the life of the 10-year contract.

Tonya Rice, the county clerk's election director, cast a mock ballot for media during the March 26 press conference. Once voters have completed their ballot selections, "rather than 'cast ballot' it says 'print ballot,'" Rice said.

"The ballot is then put in a privacy sleeve and the judge initials the ballot before its put in scanner," Rice explained.

Ed Michalowski, the county's deputy clerk of elections, said that "when a ballot is cast, there's a digital image of the ballot captured and, in addition to the digital image, the paper ballot itself is unhackable, auditable and keeps our elections secure."

County election officials said that while the new machines are manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems, the company will not administer the voting process.

The responsibility of installing the voting machines will fall to the more than 6,300 election judges and equipment managers who will be working in nearly 1,000 polling places across suburban Cook County on April 2.

Yarbrough said her office is still looking for more poll workers on Election Day. Her office has marketed the positions heavily. Individuals interested in becoming election judges (who earn $200 that day) and equipment managers (who earn $340 that day) can apply at cookcountyclerk.com/work.

The new machines, county election officials said, are certified by state and federal election authorities.

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