New DuPage County Clerk drops lawsuit to get records from election commission

DuPage County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek has ended a legal fight to get records from a government entity that likely will become part of her office soon.

Kaczmarek was a candidate when she filed a lawsuit against the DuPage County Election Commission to obtain the serial numbers of optical scan voting machines the agency received as part of a settlement with a former vendor.

At the time, the Glen Ellyn Democrat said she wanted the serial numbers to track the origin of the "antiquated, castoff machines" the commission got from Liberty Systems LLC.

But in November, Kaczmarek won her first term as clerk.

And with the county board expected to vote as soon as January to merge the election commission into the clerk's office, Kaczmarek will get access to the information sought in the lawsuit. So she voluntarily dismissed the case Dec. 7.

"I chose not to waste any more tax money on information I will have soon enough," Kaczmarek said in an email. "In the future, I will make such information available to the public. No lawsuits will be necessary."

Kaczmarek sought the serial numbers of 118 voting machines Liberty Systems gave to the commission to replace devices damaged during this year's primary election.

A total of 167 optical scan voting machines were damaged by ballot-like cards provided by Liberty Systems for the spring primary. The so-called "ender cards" were too thick to run through voting machines that read paper ballots - a mistake officials didn't discover until after the polls closed March 20.

As a result, it 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 also caused widespread embarrassment for the county.

Of the damaged machines, 57 were repaired by Liberty Systems as part of a settlement agreement that also terminated the company's contracts with the commission.

The remaining 110 machines the commission bought in 2001 were broken beyond repair. In June, Liberty Systems delivered 118 "like kind" models to the commission.

Determined to see if DuPage got a bad deal with the used machines, Kaczmarek originally requested the information in June through a Freedom of Information Act request, which the commission denied.

So Kaczmarek filed the lawsuit in October alleging violation of FOIA and willful violation of FOIA.

But Daniel Massoglia, Kaczmarek's attorney, said the lawsuit was no longer necessary because his client is now the county clerk. He said Kaczmarek will have access to the information sought in the lawsuit.

Pat Bond, the commission's attorney, said both sides agreed to pay their own fees and costs when Kaczmarek dismissed the lawsuit. He said the commission refused to release the serial numbers to preserve the integrity of the electoral process.

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