Problems reported with some voting machines in DuPage County

If he could, John Jelen says he would have voted last week for Democrat Lynn LaPlante in the race for DuPage County Board chairman.

But every time the Glen Ellyn resident pressed a button on the voting machine touch screen for LaPlante, it showed him voting for incumbent Republican Dan Cronin.

The glitch happened again when he tried to vote in a judge's race.

So Jelen simply decided not to vote in either race, especially since all his other votes seemed to be fine.

"I came there not knowing about those two races," Jelen said, "so it wasn't particularly critical to me."

Still, he alerted the DuPage Democratic Party about what happened.

On Tuesday, DuPage County Election Commission officials confirmed that two touch-screen voting machines at early voting sites - one in Glen Ellyn and another in Downers Grove - were replaced as a precautionary measure last week after some people reported problems with the devices.

However, commission officials say they've done extensive testing of the machines and can't find anything wrong with them. A third machine being used at an early voting site in Elmhurst also passed tests over the weekend.

"There is nothing wrong with the machines," said Suzanne Fahnestock, the commission's executive director. "They are working fine."

Still, Fahnestock said the machines in Glen Ellyn and Downers Grove were replaced on Oct. 23 - the same day the problems were reported.

"We received a concern," she said, "and we addressed the concern immediately."

Elmhurst resident Paula Pezza said she was voting early last Thursday at Elmhurst City Hall when the machine she was using started to malfunction.

She said she tried to cast a ballot on three separate occasions in one race only to find it showed her voting in a completely different race. Each time, she had to go back and correct the error.

"In today's day and age with our technology, this shouldn't be happening," said Pezza, who reported the problem to election judges at the Elmhurst site.

Fahnestock said she went to Elmhurst on Saturday to observe the testing of the machine.

"We looked at the machine," she said, "We tested it, and it worked just fine."

She stressed that only a few complaints have been received countywide since early voting began on Oct. 22. As of Monday night, the commission reported that 45,744 people have voted early.

Fahnestock said early voting in DuPage is "busy" but going "very well."

"I want everybody to feel very confident about coming out and using the voting system," she said. "There's nothing wrong with the machines."

Still, the incidents have renewed calls for the county to replace its touch-screen machines.

"We have argued against these used and outdated touch-screen machines for years," DuPage Democratic Party Chairman Robert Peickert said. "One flipped vote is too many. Ballot integrity is critical. Use paper ballots."

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