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Local

DeKalb County Board approves of buying new voting machines

Former Kirkland Village President Les Bellah casts his ballot March 20, 2017, at Village Hall in Kirkland.
Former Kirkland Village President Les Bellah casts his ballot March 20, 2017, at Village Hall in Kirkland.

SYCAMORE – It’s official: DeKalb County soon will be getting new voting machines.

The County Board approved the purchase of lightly used voting machines from Kane County during its regular meeting Wednesday night.

The proposal initially was proposed by DeKalb County Clerk Doug Johnson, who said he recently was approached by Kane County officials about buying the machines.

Johnson said the county has worked with Kane County in the past, which was why he was able to work out a deal with Kane County officials before other counties could take the offer.

Johnson said the machines still would take paper ballots for early and day-of voting to address voter security concerns, but they would have newer technology to transfer voter tally data securely.

“Everybody should be comfortable,” Johnson said. “It’s nothing new.”

Johnson said the current machines have older cards that carry voter tallies, whereas the newer machines would use USB drives. He said DeKalb County’s machines are about 20 years old, which means newer parts to replace broken parts in the machines are getting harder to come by, and the county was starting to run out of options.

Johnson said a brand-new machine ordinarily would cost between $4,000 and $5,000. He said he wants the county to buy all of the machines from Kane County to help accommodate the 41 polling places in DeKalb County.

The resolution said Johnson negotiated a price of $2,200 a voting machine for 42 machines, which only have been used for one election, for a total cost of $92,400.

Johnson said the county slowly has been upgrading to the newer machines anyway, with nine of the newer machines currently in use, but the offer from Kane County would allow the county to upgrade the remaining older equipment more quickly.

“Because time is of the essence to secure this particular allotment of used machines, which will save DeKalb County thousands of dollars by buying them now rather than later, all bidding requirements are hereby waived,” the resolution reads.

The money to buy the machines would come from the county’s Opportunity Fund, according to the resolution. DeKalb County Administrator Gary Hanson has said the fund is meant for bargain opportunities such as this, or for investments that would benefit the county’s future. He said there will be no tax increase for residents to pay for the machines.

Now that the county can move forward with the official purchase, all that’s left to do is to make arrangements to move them with his own truck and trailer, Johnson said.

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