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New voting machines will be installed in Chicago and Cook County polling places in time for early voting and the March 17 primary election, officials say

Monday, January 27, 2020
Chicago Tribune
by Dan Petrella

Voters in Chicago and the rest of Cook County will see brand-new voting machines when they head to the polls for the March 17 primary elections.
All Chicago polling places will be equipped with new voting machines for paper ballots and each will have at least one new touch-screen voting machine, Chicago Board of Election spokesman James Allen said Monday.
The most noticeable change will be that voters will fill in an oval rather than connecting to sides of an arrow when filling out a paper ballot, Allen said. The new touch-screen voting machines, which will resemble “giant iPads,” will print out a paper ballot, which voters will then feed into a scanner, much like they do with handwritten ballots.
The city elections board is spending $21 million on the machines, with nearly $19 million coming from the city. The City Council approved a measure Jan. 15 that moves $18.7 million from city’s streetlight replacement program to pay for the new equipment.
The city and the local election authority are paying for the new equipment because “everybody’s grown weary of waiting” for new federal funding for election equipment, Allen said. “Numerous jurisdictions around the state are just turning to their local pocketbooks,” he said.

Fifty-five early voting sites across the city open March 2 and will all be equipped with the new touch-screen machines, Allen said.

Voters across suburban Cook County also will see new machines at all polling places in March. The machines were tested in 147 precincts during last year’s local elections.

The Cook County Board approved a 10-year, $31 million contract for the new machines with Dominion Voting Systems in September 2018, said James Scalzitti, a spokesman for the Cook County clerk’s office.
At a news conference at the Chicago Board of Elections on Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker acknowledged that election authorities across the state need to update their equipment.
Pritzker and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley tried to reassure voters about the security of the upcoming elections after Russian hackers penetrated the state’s voter registration system in 2016. The state has received $15 million in federal funding to help harden its defenses.
“I feel very confident that our elections are safe and secure,” Pritzker said. “But would I feel better if we had more resources to replace all the equipment with updated, newest-available equipment? Of course.”
Pritzker said he doesn’t plan to propose a major increase in state funding to help local election jurisdictions pay for new voting equipment in his spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1.
“I don’t think we need to have a massive appropriation here to focus on all the various counties, but we are working with those counties on upgrades they need to make on their local systems,” he said.

 

 

 

 



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