County Board approves contracts, funded entirely by grants
Jan. 18, 2012
Cook County Clerk David Orr today announced new projects to improve military voting, vote-by-mail operations and polling place accessibility for suburban Cook County, funded entirely by federal grants.
The Cook County Board of Commissioners approved on Wednesday the low-bid contract to Everyone Counts, Inc. for an electronic ballot delivery system to military and overseas voters. The $251,970 project will be funded through a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Family Services aimed at implementing 2002’s Help America Vote Act (HAVA).
“This system will result in a drastic reduction in delivery time, greatly increasing the chances we will get ballots back on time from our men and women serving overseas,” Orr said. “As an added perk, processing these ballots will be automated rather than needing staff to hand-mark mirror ballots.”
Election authorities have been required since 2009 to provide electronic ballots to military and overseas voters. The Clerk’s office accepted ballot requests by mail and distributed ballots via email – an often lengthy process that could prevent votes from being counted.
Beginning with the March 20, 2012 Presidential Primary, San Diego-based Everyone Counts will provide a secure website where military and overseas voters can log in, vote their ballot, print and sign it, then mail it to the Clerk’s office.
A $259,466 low-bid contract with Runbeck Election Services, Inc., also approved Wednesday by the County Board, will be funded by the same grant for a vote-by-mail processing system.
“Now that any Illinois voter can request a mail ballot, we anticipate doubling or even tripling the 25,000 absentee ballots cast in 2010,” Orr said. “Runbeck’s system will modernize our manual, labor-intensive process at a savings to taxpayers.”
The mail ballot system uses a high-speed scanner to capture voter signatures, sort by precinct and open envelopes.
The remainder of the $3 million grant will be used for projects including forensic auditing and electronic pollbooks.
Finally, a Voting Access for Individuals with Disabilities grant was awarded in the amount of $175,189. This grant will be used to make polling places accessible to voters with disabilities.
Media contact: Courtney Greve, 312.603.0931, firstname.lastname@example.org