Vendor to compensate DuPage for election night fiasco

 
 
Updated 4/24/2018 11:34 AM
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  • DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin

    DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin

DuPage County has reached a settlement with the vendor that provided faulty equipment and caused election results to be delayed for hours during last month's primary election.

DuPage Election Commission officials said Liberty Systems LLC provided the wrong ballot-like cards needed to close the county's optical scan voting machines. The so-called "ender cards" were too thick to run through the voting machines that read paper ballots -- a mistake officials didn't discover until after the polls closed on March 20.

As a result, the commission took more than eight hours to count all the ballots, leaving some candidates uncertain about the outcome of their races until early the next morning. The blunder caused widespread embarrassment.

The commission was considering legal action against Liberty Systems when county board Chairman Dan Cronin announced the settlement on Tuesday.

"This settlement provides remuneration for the damages the election commission incurred, while also clearing a path for a new vendor to provide service to DuPage County voters in November," Cronin said.

As part of the settlement, Cronin said:

• Liberty Systems will not be paid for the kits that supplied the ender cards.

• Three other contracts with Liberty Systems will be terminated immediately. The commission will seek other bids for election supplies to be used in the November election and Liberty Systems will not be considered.

• The company will repair or replace 167 machines damaged by the faulty ender cards.

• The company will compensate the county for the overtime costs incurred on election night.

Going into the primary election, Liberty Systems had four contracts with the commission. One was a multiyear, roughly $91,000 deal to provide kits containing Election Day supplies for polling places. The ender cards are included in those kits.

The cards are used to send a simple command to the optical scan machines to end voting and print results. The commission never had a problem with the ender cards it purchased for previous elections.

Because the cards were faulty, bipartisan teams of judges had to bring 268 of the 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 the polls closed -- and the final votes weren't counted until around 3 a.m. the next day.

In addition to the settlement, Cronin said the commission is acting on his request to bring in additional staff for election oversight.

"We continue to receive and act upon suggestions from election judges," he said.

Cronin also talked about a proposed change to state law that would pave the way for the election commission to merge with the county clerk's office.

House Bill 5123 has been approved by the Illinois House and is awaiting a vote by the Illinois Senate.

If approved and signed into law, the legislation would amend the Election Code to allow DuPage to dissolve its election commission and transfer its functions to the county clerk. It would take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

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