March 04, 2024
Local News

DuPage Election Commission cites old technology for slow primary results, looks at upgrades

Hours after results from nearby counties had been finalized, votes from DuPage County residents still were being tabulated well into the early hours of the morning after the March 15 primary election.

The reason for the delay?

Voting machines so old that results must be physically taken from 206 polling locations via 512 memory cards to the DuPage County Election Commission to ensure its safe transferral, commission staff said.

The election commission board discussed the delays during its April 4 meeting, asking staff to look into upgrading.

"A number of citizens contacted members of the board," commission Chairwoman Cathy Terrill said. "We want to look into it...but we also want to be good stewards of money."

Joseph Sobecki, the commission's assistant executive director, said neighboring Cook County sends its election information over a secure mobile network – something DuPage's slow, insecure machines equipped with modems can't do.

Sobecki said security experts in the early 2000s recommended taking the transmission of results offline to avoid people hacking into the data.

He said the commission may be able to work from the commission's existing infrastructure, though he said existing equipment had no Internet capability.

"Our voter system, because of when it came out, it can't connect to a network and send results," Sobecki said. "We would have to look at an alternative method."

He said commission staff was working with the county's IT department for possible solutions and an overall assessment of the system, particularly to create a private server to safely share results.

"Should you open it up to the Internet, and open it up to people being able to access it, even with a firewall, that security principal still exists," Sobecki said.

The board will be presented with a report and list of suggestions upon completion of the review.