Screw-ups have consequences – Election Judges frustrated

Election Screw-Ups Have Consequence

Election Judges frustrated

By Sue Sitton
Has the need to find Election Judges for the November 2018 election increased since the Primary Election on March 20, 2018?  There has always been a need for more judges.  Our judges are dedicated to ensuring that elections are fair and processes are followed to ensure votes are secure and counted accurately.  The dedication, service and time they give to us must be valued and appreciated by all of us.  So, let’s say it now.  Election Judges …Thank you for the incredible work you do to maintain the integrity of our elections!!!  Fairness of voting is a core value of our county.  It is the voice of the people.

So, what’s different now?  On March 20th, each polling location attempted to complete the close-out process for each voting machine.  This requires feeding an “ender card” into each machine.  At this point, the process stopped.  The ender cards that were supplied by Liberty Systems were too thick to feed through the machine.

As part of the process, election judges had a phone number to call for problems.  All polling locations had the same problem, so access and hold times were significant.  Unfortunately, there was not a process to blast a notification to all locations at once (e.g., a text message to all judges) to let them know there was a problem and to give instructions on what to do.  Because the problem was county-wide, it took time to communicate instructions to the judges.  This resulted in additional hours to a very long day.  Our judges are dedicated and did what they were instructed.

Because of the dedication and commitment of our judges, the integrity of the election was preserved.  Many election judges have expressed their frustration over that night.  Some have said they are not sure if they will return for the November election.  County screw-ups have consequences.  We may have fewer judges returning in November.  Hopefully, the county officials will take the time to really hear our judges and be able to convince them that appropriate fixes will be in place by the November election.

After this fiasco, Joe Sobecki (DuPage Election Commission Executive Director) presented the problem to the DuPage County Board on March 27 (video, start at 12:40).  According to the Daily Herald, Cathy Ficker Terrill, DuPage Election Commission Chairwoman, offered her resignation; however, she is still there.  The Election Commission initiated legal action against Liberty Systems.

At the April 24thDuPage County Board meeting, Dan Cronin (DuPage County Chairman) presented an update for litigation with Liberty Systems.  This vendor supplied the faulty ender cards that were responsible for a delay counting ballots and reporting the primary election results.  He declared this incident as a disruption and significant delay in reporting of DuPage County vote totals. 

Cronin reported the following settlement with Liberty Systems.  Feel free to watch the video(starts at 45 seconds).  The settlement with Liberty Systems “provides remuneration for damages the Election Commission incurred while also clearing a path for a new vendor to provide services for DuPage County voters in November 2018.  Here are his highlights:

·       Liberty will not be paid for the kits that supplied the faulty ender cards

·       Three other contracts pending with Liberty will be terminated immediately

·       Contracts will go out for a bid process to select a vendor for November election

·       Liberty will not bid for those contracts

·       Liberty will repair or replace 167 machines that were damaged by the faulty ender cards

·       Liberty will compensate the County for overtime costs incurred on election night

Cronin also reported that new staff will be hired by the Election Commission, to focus exclusively on election oversight.  The job, Election Technology Coordinator, has been posted on the county website.   

Election Judges also are part of the process to make improvements for the next election.  They have participated in giving their experience and feedback on what should change.  Let’s continue to encourage our friends and neighbors to become election judges.  And, if you know or meet any current judges, thank them for their service.