New election equipment will be bought for DuPage County

The DuPage County Clerk's office will soon get 1,000 electronic poll books to replace aging devices with an eye toward ensuring smooth operations during next year's primary and general elections.

County board members on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract with KNOWiNK, LLC to provide the poll books, as well as licenses and support services through October 2023. The St. Louis-based company will be paid roughly $2 million over the next four years, including $1.52 million this year for the hardware.

Clerk Jean Kaczmarek reacted to Tuesday's vote by thanking the board "for supporting this essential component for DuPage's electoral process, which will greatly benefit our voters, our election judges and our staff."

With historic voter turnout expected in 2020, Kaczmarek says highly populated counties such as DuPage must have poll books to accommodate the volume. The devices are used to check in voters at polling places.

Kaczmarek says traditional paper poll books don't meet the needs of modern of elections, which include early voting, same-day voter registration and vote by mail.

"These e-poll books will also reduce the amount of paperwork required during the election cycle and will improve accuracy of records," the Glen Ellyn Democrat said.

The former DuPage Election Commission, which merged earlier this year with the clerk's office, started using electronic poll books in 2015. The county now has about 900 of the devices. But all those devices need to be replaced.

While she voted to approve the contract, county board member Sadia Covert raised questions about the reliability of KNOWiNK's poll book system. The Naperville Democrat referred to a recent newspaper article that said Philadelphia had problems with the devices.

Officials with the clerk's office said they're aware of the article. However, they said, they did their own research and have a high degree of confidence in KNOWiNK.

When asked if Tuesday's vote could be delayed, officials said the clerk's office was planning to begin the process of training election judges this week.

In fact, Kaczmarek wanted to buy the new poll books this fall so they can be delivered, configured and tested in time for election judges to be trained to use them during the 2020 primary election.

She said KNOWiNK has a reputation for security and has undergone testing with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to maintain up-to-date defense measures. The poll books, she said, can be "remotely tracked, locked and wiped if one were lost or fell into the wrong hands."

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