JOLIET – Staffers from the Will County Clerk’s Office were busy Wednesday morning performing one of the many tasks in preparation for the primary election March 20.
By law, Section 24B-9 of the Illinois Election Code, the clerk’s office is required to perform logic and accuracy testing of its vote tabulation equipment.
The clerk’s office notified the public and invited them, candidates and the press to the event. One candidate, Laurie McPhillips, who is running for Will County clerk, showed up.
There also were two representatives, one from each local political party, to view and check the testing results. Marianne DeMeritt, the Will County Republican Central Committee secretary, and Kevin Clancy, the Will County Democratic Central Committee treasurer, were on hand for the testing. A representative from the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office also was present.
To test the machines, called M100s, used in each voting precinct, the staffers used actual ballots and tabulated them before the public testing. Then they ran the same ballots again on the day of the public testing before the party representatives. DeMeriff and Clancy both checked the two different tabulations to make sure they matched, and they signed off on them.
“We basically run those ballots through, with the names on it, to make sure that the machine is picking up that vote,” Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said.
To further ensure accuracy, Schultz Voots explained that whether residents are voting by mail, voting early or at their designated polling place on Election Day, they have to sign a ballot application. The applications and ballots cast at each location must match.
To ensure the security and integrity of the clerk’s office’s system, all computers are air-gapped from the internet on Election Day, and no results are ever processed online in Will County.
After the election, there also will be a retabulation of votes from a selection of precincts and early voting sites. Those results will be compared to and must match the tabulation from Election Day, or whenever the votes were cast, to ensure the machines are consistently working properly. A representative from the local Republican Party, Democratic Party and the state’s attorney’s office also will be present for that round of testing.
Voters with disabilities also can use a touch-screen device, called the AutoMARK Voter Assist Terminal, to cast their vote. The ballot is then put into the same type of ballot counter so that all votes go through one system, which helps with faster reporting of results.
Schultz Voots also emphasized that while residents might read or hear about election integrity issues around the country, she wants them to contact her office if they have any questions
“We follow the laws, and I always feel that the most important thing is to educate our community of their choices,” she said. “In the years since I’ve been in office, technology has really taken over, and I think it’s a great thing because now we’re taking care of everybody.”
While the deadline for registering to vote has passed, eligible residents still can go to the Will County Clerk’s Office and register to vote. The office is located on the first floor of the Will County Building at 302 N. Chicago St. in Joliet.
You can learn more about how to vote at thewillcountyclerk.com or call the office at 815-740-4615.