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More voting problems won’t be tolerated
A repeat of primary headaches unacceptable, Cook County board member warns clerk’s office

Thursday, October 05, 2006
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

Things got a little testy at the Cook County Board meeting Wednesday as one commissioner warned the clerk’s office he would not accept a repeat this fall of the problems that occurred at the voting booth in March.


Republican Peter Silvestri of Elmwood Park was addressing Brandon Neese, the deputy clerk, who had been called up to the microphone to address questions about the upcoming election.


“I don’t want to tell you, and no responsible person would tell you, that there’s going to be no problems,” Neese said, adding that most experts estimate it takes four voting cycles to work the kinks out of a new voting system.


In March, the clerk’s office adopted two new voting machines utilizing different types of technology: optical scan ballots and electronic touch-screen ballots. Voting returns were accurate but did not come in as quickly as in years past, leaving several tight races unresolved for days. In addition, voters complained of long lines because some equipment wasn’t working.


“It is not acceptable to say that it takes four elections,” Silvestri bristled. “Because if I hear about it (voting problems), you’re going to hear about it.”


Later, in the hallway behind the boardroom, Cook County Clerk David Orr and Silvestri traded barbs, with Orr mentioning that one of the problems with this upcoming election is that Republicans haven’t gotten enough Republican judges. The two went into Silvestri’s office to talk in private and emerged in a friendly manner.


Orr said more machines have been added for this election so precincts won’t have to share transmission equipment. In addition, test signals will be sent by equipment at the beginning of the day, so that if a machine is broken, technicians can replace it before it is needed at the end of the day. In March, several machines weren’t discovered to be broken until the end of the day, when it was too late to replace them.


In addition, there is staff available and dedicated solely to equipment. In March, election judges had to divide their attention among different poll functions.



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