DuPage looking for ways to post election results faster

DuPage County Election Commission officials are exploring ways to get voting results posted on their website more quickly after a noticeably slow performance during last month's primary.

When the polls closed on March 15, the commission didn't post unofficial totals from all of its precincts until more than six hours after the polls closed.

Cathy Ficker Terrill, chairwoman of the DuPage Election Commission Board, said that prompted "a number of citizens" to ask if there's a way to get results in a more timely manner.

On Monday, staff members told the board they are working with the county's IT department to see if any solutions can be found.

DuPage currently doesn't use the Internet to remotely transmit results from polling places to the commission's central database as many other counties do.

Instead, election judges from each polling location must hand-deliver memory cards to the commission office in Wheaton.

That's because officials decided more than a decade ago that the commission's tabulation computer shouldn't be connected to any data lines to prevent possible data corruption and hacking.

"Security experts at the time recommended taking it offline and not using lines that could be hacked," said Joseph Sobecki, assistant executive director of the election commission. "So that's a model that we adopted here at the county."

If election commissioners want to change the policy, one option they could consider is to transmit results to a separate server that wouldn't be connected to the tabulation computer.

However, it needs to be determined whether that's feasible with equipment the commission has. Sobecki said the electronic voting machines were purchased in the early 2000s and have dial-up modems.

"We most likely have to look at an alternative route for sending the data," he said.

Before the commission makes a final decision, Ficker Terrill said she would like to know how much it would cost to upgrade the equipment.

Still, she said the commission should consider ways to speed up the process of posting results for the November election.

"Technology has changed," Ficker Terrill said. "We need to balance security with being a bit more expeditious."

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