After election night debacle, DuPage officials cut ties with voting machine vendor

 
 
Updated 5/9/2018 9:51 PM
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  • Joe Sobecki, executive director of the DuPage Election Commission, explains the election night voting machine and "ender card" problem March 27 to the DuPage County Board.

      Joe Sobecki, executive director of the DuPage Election Commission, explains the election night voting machine and "ender card" problem March 27 to the DuPage County Board. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Cathy Ficker Terrill

    Cathy Ficker Terrill

The DuPage County Election Commission has severed its relationship with the company that supplied faulty equipment and caused results to be delayed for hours during the March primary.

Members of the board that oversees the election commission on Wednesday terminated all four contracts the agency has with Liberty Systems LLC. The two-year pacts were rescinded as part of a settlement agreement with the vendor.

Commission officials say Liberty Systems 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 for the county.

The commission was considering legal action against Liberty Systems when the settlement was announced last month.

"I'm very pleased that we were able to negotiate a settlement and not have to pursue litigation," said Cathy Ficker Terrill, chairwoman of the election commission board.

As part of the settlement, the commission doesn't have to pay $26,260 for the election supply kits that contained the ender cards.

The three other contracts the commission terminated Wednesday had a total value of $537,161.

In addition, Liberty Systems has agreed to replace voting machines damaged by the faulty ender cards.

Pat Bond, the commission's attorney, said he's satisfied with the settlement.

"You can't put a price tag ... on the public disappointment with the delayed reporting," Bond said. "But any and all hard costs are more than covered with the agreement."

The commission will seek new bids for election supplies to be used in the November election. Liberty Systems won't be allowed to submit bids for those contracts.

"I'm glad the settlement agreement does not allow the vendor to rebid on the contracts that have been terminated," Ficker Terrill said.

Jean Kaczmarek, who has been critical of Liberty Systems for years, says it took too long for the commission to cut ties with the vendor.

"This never should have happened," she said.

Meanwhile, a proposed state law could disband the commission. House Bill 5123 has been approved by the Illinois House and is awaiting a final 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's office. It would take effect Jan. 1, 2019.

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