GRUNDY — The Grundy County Clerk’s office has received new election equipment in time for early voting May 19.
The new equipment will offer a new polling station for those who are disabled. The system offers braille, headphones, the option for color or black and white, as well as the ability to increase the font size.
This is the first time Grundy County has purchased their own equipment. Previously, the county leased it under Government Business Systems.
The equipment was purchased for $447,130.08 from Hart, a Texas-based company that has over 100 years of election experience.
“This is the first time in Grundy County that a touch writer, a person with disabilities, or a regular voter choosing to vote in a booth will have an identical ballot,” said Deputy Clerk Kristin Hall.
Previously, people who voted on the touch screens had the opportunity to review their ballot, but nothing was printed out for the voter. With the new equipment, the system will print out a hard ballot, allowing everyone to vote the same way.
“The scanner takes an image of every ballot that goes through, so if we ever need to do a recount or for auditing purposes,” said Grundy County Clerk Kay Olson. “I think voters will like that and help them have more confidence in the system.”
If the voter wishes to write in a candidate the touch writer allows the voter to type it in. The vote will only count if the candidate has filed a declaration of intent.
The touch writer will not allow the voter to make an error on the system. For example, if the option is to vote for two, the system will not accept three selections but a voter is allowed to undervote.
After the voter has completed the voting process, the system allows the voter to review their selections before the ballot is printed. Once the voter is satisfied, they can print their ballot at the printer and review it before placing the ballot directly in the scanner.
“What’s nice about the machines is that everything is very clear,” Hall said. “If the voter made an error or under-voted the messages are very clear. So, the voter will be allowed to correct their error.”
The new equipment will offer security features including no built in port systems and no wiring. The clerks office will still maintain its normal security protocols ensuring all the checks and balances along the way stay in place.
“The day before the election when the equipment and supplies are picked up everything is sealed and numbered. We have long sheets of all of those seals and the judges are trained to go and check to ensure the seal has not been tampered with,” said Olson
“There are many protocols built in to ensure security,” she said.
The County Clerks office encourages those who have any questions or concerns about the new equipment to contact them at 815-941-3222.
Source: The Daily Chronicle