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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Clair County OKs $1.4 Million Plan To Replace Decades-Old Ballot Machines

 St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook talks about the aging voting and optical scan machines used in St. Clair County elections on Feb. 27, 2020. The county board approved a $1.4 million plan to replace voting equipment in the county.
Derik Holtmann
/
Belleville News-Democrat
St. Clair County Clerk Tom Holbrook talks about the aging voting and optical scan machines used in St. Clair County elections on Feb. 27, 2020. The county board approved a $1.4 million plan to replace voting equipment in the county.

Kavahn Mansouri is a reporter and editor with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

Decades-old voting equipment will be replaced in St. Clair County with the county board’s approval of $1.4 million worth of new election machines Monday night.

The county board voted unanimously Monday to purchase the machines, which County Clerk Tom Holbrook said is necessary ahead of upcoming elections. Holbrook called the county’s current equipment supply, some of which dates back to the 1970s, “unsupported and outdated.”

“We have some of the oldest technology in the state and a lot of it is not being supported anymore,” Holbrook said. “This will update us to literally state-of-the-art equipment.”

Holbrook said voters can expect a voting experience similar to what they’re accustomed to even with the new machines. Paper ballots will still be available and touchscreen machines will be added at many locations, but voters will always be able to choose whichever machine they’d like.

He said the process should be “smoother” for all involved.

The total cost of the entire package from Election Systems & Softwares, a Nebraskan company and the sole bidder, is $1,430,455. The county will receive 140 new paper ballot machines and 181 new ExpressVote touch screen voting terminals, which will be spread throughout 191 precincts.

The bid was roughly $1 million less than what the county had budgeted out for the process, Holbrook noted.

The new machines will make life easier for election judges and the clerk’s office, Holbrook said, adding that there will be extra training for election judges ahead of the Nov. 8, 2022 election.

“It’s a huge investment but we have to keep up with this,” he said. “To the best of my knowledge, there are only about four other counties (in Illinois) that still use this and they’re all looking at doing away with it as well.”

The county board also approved the purchase of training, installation, voting kiosks as part of the package.

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