Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry has signed contracts to buy new, state-of-the-art election equipment that will “thoroughly modernize” Will County’s voting systems, according to the clerk’s office.
The new election equipment and related software will replace outdated tabulators and voting devices, some which are decades old and functioning on ancient and unsupported software platforms, according to a news release from the county.
Ferry earlier this year worked closely with the Will County Board’s leadership team, including Chairwoman Judy Ogalla, Republican Leader Steve Balich, and Democratic Leader Jackie Traynere, as well as with Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, to get County Board approval for spending $7.8 million for this program, according to the release.
“The companies we have partnered with and the new equipment and software we have purchased will completely upgrade Will County’s elections on behalf of our voters,” Staley Ferry said. “I thank the Will County Board and its forward-thinking leadership team for making this important investment in our democracy.”
After a review process that spanned nearly two years, the following companies were selected:
Governmental Business Systems is a Lisle-based provider of Hart InterCivic election equipment. The clerk’s office has purchased Hart InterCivic’s Verity line of secure election equipment for tabulating paper ballots, reporting election results, and supporting robust post-election audits, according to the release.
Verity equipment includes state-of-the-art Verity Scan tabulators and Verity Touch Writer ballot-marking devices to assist voters with disabilities. Hart InterCivic is based in Austin, Texas and provides tabulation equipment and software to election authorities across the U.S.
GBS, a local company headquartered in the western suburbs, will provide critical support services for the new line of Hart InterCivic equipment, according to the clerk’s office.
Tenex Software Solutions is a Florida company that will provide the clerk’s office with new pollbooks, a new voter registration system, and a new elections management system. Tenex has strong footholds in several states including Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, California and Idaho.
The company last year began establishing itself in Illinois.
Tenex’s software will enable the clerk’s office to update its voter registration rolls and manage its elections “with the greatest efficiency,” according to the release. The new pollbooks will streamline and simplify the process of checking in voters for election judges.
The Hart InterCivic tabulators and ballot-marking devices are designed to function with paper ballots that document and record a voter’s intent for secure and verifiable elections. The tabulators use digital scanners to read boxes marked by voters next to their selections on paper ballots, according to the clerk’s office.
All tabulators are isolated and operate independently with no wireless communications capabilities to prevent potential exploitation by hackers. All software associated with the new equipment will function on the most-recent supported platforms.
Election Day tabulators and ADA ballot-marking devices that the county had been using were almost 20 years old and could not be replaced. Repairs for broken units were made with refurbished parts, according to the clerk’s office.
This purchase will complete the modernization of Will County Clerk’s election functions that began in 2021 with the automation of the office’s Vote By Mail operation.
“My goal from the start was to bring our local elections into the modern era on behalf of Will County voters,” Staley Ferry said. “I’ve worked in partnership with our Will County Board to deliver on that commitment. The 2024 elections will complete the modernization of our elections systems and provide our citizens with the efficient voting experience they deserve.”