All were present at the November Election Commission meeting including new Commissioner Jeanne Williamson. The new rules were in effect covering public comments. That agenda item was moved to the beginning of the meeting, and speakers were limited to five minutes. This allowed the Commission to answer public concerns about the integrity of voting systems and the reason why local vendors did not tender bids.
The Request for Proposals went out in February, and two vendors returned bids. They were ES & S and Hart Intercivic. Both companies gave presentations to the committee formed to evaluate and recommend a new voting system. The committee used a weighted twelve point rating to compare the two companies’ proposals. Hart scored higher on 9 of 12 points, including 100% on security. Hart is set up to handle cumulative voting (which is used in the city of Peoria), while ES & S would have to set it up. Both systems would be accessible to handicapped voters. Both systems use secure paper ballots. The Hart system cannot be accessed without a code from Hart, and everything is encrypted. All ballots will look the same whether used for early voting, mail in voting, or on election day. The evaluation committee recommends Hart because of security, ability to meet the County’s needs, customer service, and ease of reporting. The exact cost of the new voting system will not be known until after negotiations. The number of precincts was not known in February when the RFP went out.
There was discussion about whether the Commission should pay for the return of vote by mail ballots. This has always been done in the past, but business reply envelopes do not require postmarks, which is sometimes an issue. A decision will be made at next month’s meeting.
Also discussed was the need to update the pollbooks and provide printers to do ballots on demand. This will also be decided at a later date.
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