By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — The Winnebago County Clerk’s Office conducted a public test of its vote-tabulating machines on Wednesday as it prepares to put the equipment into action for the second time.
The public test is a routine measure in the lead up to the Nov. 8 election. The county uses a mock-election ballot to compare the machine count against the expected results of the test.
The machines passed the test on Wednesday.
“This is just a way to demonstrate that the elections are safe and secure,” Winnebago County Clerk Lori Gummow said.
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Representatives of the State Board of Elections were here last week to conduct their own test, and the Rockford Board of Elections conducts its test Thursday.
Winnebago County spent a little more than $1 million dollars in November 2021 to buy 75 tabulating machines from Omaha, Nebraska-based Elections Systems & Software.
That equipment was first used during the June 28 primary election, but an issue with the font and format of the ballots led to the results of some referendum questions having an inflated level of support. None of the races involving candidates were effected.
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Gummow said the machine software had issues reading the font of referendums at the bottom of the ballot. The county updated that software, retabulated the vote, and verified its accuracy with a partial hand count. While the percentages of the results changed in multiple referendums, only one outcome changed: Durand’s ballot question about its pension fund switched from a yes to a no.
That issue, combined with national scrutiny surrounding elections, puts additional focus on the clerk’s office. Representatives of both parties, as well as multiple reporters watched the public test on Wednesday.
“We see so many messages day in and day out that we question our election services,” said Gummow, a Republican. “I think this is just a way to demonstrate to the voter that the equipment is doing what the equipment is supposed to be doing.”
This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas.