Kane State’s Attorney and Sheriff say voting machine complaints unfounded

Officials investigated machines’ accuracy, legality

Mary Beth McLain of Batavia is shown how to use the new Hart Verity Duo voting equipment by Kane County Deputy Clerk Jim Morefield during a demonstration hosted by the Kane County Clerk’s Office at the Batavia Public Library on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023.

GENEVA – In a joint statement issued Feb. 8, Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser and Sheriff Ron Hain reported they investigated complaints about the accuracy and the legal standing of the Kane County Clerk’s new voting machines and determined all complaints were unfounded.

Mosser and Hain are committed “to ensuring a fair election process” during early voting for the March 19 primary, according to the release.

“The Kane County Clerk’s Office, in an abundance of caution, will have the election judges ready and willing to assist any voter with the submission of their final ballot,” according to the release. “We also believe that the Kane County Clerk’s Office is generally prepared to assist during the voting process if there are any issues with that process.”

Kane County Clerk John Cunningham said this is the fourth time the same people have asked questions and received answers about the voting equipment.

“The people have a right to question, but sometimes it gets a little ridiculous,” Cunningham said. “Their questions have been answered. Either they don’t understand the answer or they have other objectives. ... They get all their information – misinformation, malinformation – out of Facebook and they think it’s the Bible.”

Cunningham was referring to people who challenged a $2 million grant his office received from the U.S. Alliance of Election Excellence.

Last March, Campton Hills resident Michelle Bettag criticized the acceptance of private cash for voting equipment as “dirty money” from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg with hidden obligations.

“We didn’t want private funds from Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook. They were censoring stuff and trying to control the ballot,” Bettag said. “I think we can afford our own elections.”

Bettag said she did not file any of the complaints that led to the state’s attorney’s and the sheriff’s investigation.

Voting machines

Two complaints alleged voting machine irregularity, based on public demonstrations to educate voters on how to use the new equipment called the Hart Verity Duo system, which provides both touch-screen technology and a paper ballot.

“Specifically, several individuals reported that they submitted a name during the mock demonstration, another name was generated and printed on the ballot, and, separately, the machines had difficulty feeding the paper ballots into the scanning device,” according to the joint statement.

“The demonstration program used by Hart is the same nationwide and is meant to display the capabilities of the program. Some states allow a candidate to use an ‘alias’ name on the ballot,” according to the statement. “To demonstrate the system’s capacity to accommodate these laws, the test displays the name ‘Abraham Lincoln’ on the screen and prints out the alias ‘John Muir.’ ”

Machines used in the March 19 primary will have only one name.

A state’s attorney investigator and Mosser visited the clerk’s office Feb. 6 with a request to try the machines.

They sampled ballots for each primary ticket, Democrat and Republican.

“At the voting machine, the ballot number was entered and the corresponding ballot was seen on the screen. Both were able to select test votes and confirm the selections made on the screen,” according to the statement.

“The votes were then printed onto the ballot paper and they were able to confirm that what was printed on the paper was who they had each respectively voted for on the machine,” according to the statement.

The Kane County Clerk’s Office hosted a demonstration of the new Hart Verity Duo voting equipment at the Batavia Public Library on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023.

They submitted the paper ballot to the scanning device and neither person had any difficulty in feeding the final ballot into it.

“As such, we determined that there were no issues with the voting machines based on the two complaints that were received,” according to the statement. “Based on this, we have found that the complaints are unfounded and that the matter is closed.”

Equipment purchase

The other complaints alleged that on Aug. 8, 2023, the Kane County Board approved the purchase of unapproved voting machines, via an agreement with Hart InterCivic, to upgrade the county’s voting system, according to the joint statement.

The complaints alleged the voting equipment was bought before the Illinois State Board of Elections approved its use and was therefore a violation of the Illinois Election Code.

The State Board of Elections voted Nov. 21, 2023, to give Hart a two-year interim approval of its Verity voting system. On Aug. 11, 2023, Hart requested approval for the March 19 primary.

Regulations required Hart to apply for approval by Sept. 18, 2023, so ISBE staff concluded that Hart’s voting system met state statutory and regulatory requirements, according to the statement.

“Based on this, we have found that the complaints are unfounded and the matter is closed,” according to the joint statement.

In an email, State’s Attorney spokeswoman Zaida Rodriguez wrote the office received more than 30 letters about the voter machines not being approved and the office would not provide copies of the complaints or the letters to the media.