While most TV cameras and reporters were focused on Chicago’s mayoral and aldermanic races Tuesday night, Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office was quietly making strides in its Election Day performance.
Although suburban Cook County had 190 precincts involved in the election, 95 percent of the precincts had reported results by 8:45 p.m. Judges were able to successfully transmit and do it quickly—a sign that both they and the equipment had improved dramatically since November when only 56 percent of the precincts were able to transmit.
“These numbers confirm that the changes made by our office and by Sequoia in the wake of the November election—at the recommendation of our Election Review Panel—were effective,” said Orr. “We are on the right road.”
During the day, voting hours also went more smoothly. There were very few equipment malfunctions. Just a smattering of minor issues were logged, ranging from a few missing cords and broken scissors, to judges who didn’t show up.
A number of visible changes made the day easier for voters and judges. Longer voter activation cards did not get stuck in the touch screen machines. Styluses were available for voters who did not want use their fingers to vote on the touch screen.
Data indicates that the touch screens continued to gain popularity. Of the 14,633 voters who cast ballots in this election, 60.4 percent (8,837) voted on the touch screen. This number includes those who voted early.
“This election was a success not only because of the transmission success rate and early results, but because judges are becoming more comfortable with the new equipment,” added Orr. “This is due, in part, to our improved training program.”
Now that the suburban judges have been through three elections and comprehensive trainings, they have a better grasp of how to operate the equipment. When problems come up, most are able to successfully troubleshoot without calling the clerk’s office.
While the accuracy of the November election was not in question, candidates had not been happy with the slowness of results. On Tuesday night, candidates, the media and the public had information far earlier; almost every race was determined by 9 p.m.
Orr notes that the upcoming April election will pose a greater challenge for his office. Currently, there are approximately 3,000 candidates up for election, nearly 75 referenda, and more than 800 different ballot styles. “While this will be extremely complex for my office—from ballot preparation to results analysis—I am confident that we will continue to move forward with our mission of making the Election Day experience more rewarding for everyone involved.”