DuPage County has trouble counting ballots after problems with voting machines

A technical problem with closing hundreds of electronic voting machines hampered the DuPage County Election Commission's ability to count ballots Tuesday night, officials said.

Despite "rigorous" pre-election testing of the ballot tabulation equipment and the tabulation process, officials said difficulties occurred when they tried to close optical scan machines and get results at some precincts.

As a result, bipartisan teams of judges had to bring about 265 voting machines to the election commission office in Wheaton to tabulate the results.

Vote totals from the first precincts weren't reported until nearly 10 p.m. - a full three hours after voting ended. And by 11 p.m., only 49 percent of the votes had been counted.

"It resulted in a slight delay in the upload for those machines," said Joseph Sobecki, the commission's executive director.

He stressed the integrity of memory cards and the votes casts never were compromised. The commission issued a statement apologizing for the delay.

Despite testing before Election Night, officials said the problems weren't discovered until Tuesday.

"I have been in contact with the DuPage Election Commission and am assured your voting results are secure and forthcoming," DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said in a statement released on Facebook. "However, the commission has failed the voters of DuPage once again with their inability to provide timely election results. This is not acceptable."

DuPage was using a new system that was supposed to make viewing election results more interesting, customizable and headache-free, officials said. The same system has been used successfully across the nation, including in Lake and Will counties.

The county bought the system after a glitch caused its website to slow down during last April's election and prevented some residents from viewing results.

Sources said the problems are with the cards used to close the machines and not with the new system.

In a twist, one of the referendum questions on Tuesday's ballot was an advisory measure asking voters if the election commission should be merged with the county clerk's office. Cronin has been pushing that concept for years, but the state legislature has been reluctant to give the county permission to do it.

  A sheriff's deputy blocks an entrance to the county government complex in Wheaton on Tuesday after election officials had to bring 265 voting machines to the complex. Bev Horne/
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