DuPage looking to improve election results website

 
 
Updated 6/15/2017 6:57 AM

DuPage County officials are considering new software that should make viewing election results a more modern, sleek -- and headache free -- process.

A number of residents couldn't view election results in April when an Election Night glitch caused DuPage's website to slow dramatically. While the specific cause of that problem has not been identified, it's believed things will go smoother during the next election in March 2018.

 

That's because the DuPage County Election Commission is looking to buy new technology to present election results. The software will be used to upload and format results so they can be viewed on a website.

"It will take the data and display it in a way that's easy to access and view," said Joseph Sobecki, the commission's executive director. "So we'll be able to put up election results by precinct and enable the users to filter and see the races better."

Most importantly, the website shouldn't slow down like it did on April 4, when 369,728 visitors checked it for the outcome of local races and referendum questions.

Because of the slowdown, some people could view the results on the website while others couldn't.

Don Carlsen, DuPage's chief information officer, said officials soon hope to pinpoint the cause the problem. But the theory is that it was caused, in part, by the election commission's old reporting software, which dates to the early 2000s.

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"We have older technology that we're trying to make modern," Carlsen said. "When you do that, sometimes you run into problems."

County officials, meanwhile, received proposals from five vendors for new election results reporting software. The commission is expected to vote late next month to approve a contract with one of them.

Regardless of which company is selected, the software will allow the website to handle the volume of people accessing it.

"It is extremely scalable," Sobecki said, "so I think it will have improved performance on Election Night."

Carlsen agreed the upgrade will result in a better experience for people checking election results. "The display is much more modern and sleek," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Long-term, there are plans to replace the county's tabulation system before the next presidential election in 2020. But that will require "a substantial investment," according to Sobecki.

Some county leaders have voiced displeasure with the commission's refusal to remotely transmit results from polling places.

The commission has a long-standing practice that requires memory cards from voting machines to be hand-delivered to the commission office in Wheaton before the data is uploaded into the central database. Critics say that has delayed the release of results during past elections.

Sobecki says the policy helps protects DuPage's elections from hacking.

"That's something that we will look at even with new technology -- keeping the primary server sandboxed where it's not accessible from the internet or any network," he said.

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