Ballots too big for scanning machines pose problems in 25 counties
BY MICHAEL TARM March 20, 2012 10:12PM
Updated: April 22, 2012 10:18AM
Nearly a quarter of Illinois’ 102 counties grappled Tuesday with primary ballots too large to fit into scanning machines — a glitch affecting hundreds, if not thousands of ballots.
The problem apparently did not originate directly with two companies supplying the voting systems but with a graphics company that printed the ballots, said Rupert Borgsmiller of the Illinois State Board of Elections. Borgsmiller said he did not know how many ballots were affected, but with the problem affecting 25 counties plus the city of Aurora, he said.
One of the two companies, Lisle-based Governmental Business Systems, said it scrambled to help fix the problem, which in some cases meant trimming the ballots down to the proper size.
“They were printed elsewhere, but we are accountable,” said Chris Riggall, of Governmental Business Systems, which was responsible for voting systems in nine counties.
The problem did not mean votes would not be counted, nor did it prevent anyone from voting — only that it might take a little longer to count some of the votes, he said.
“You don’t want to say any problem is insignificant, but this is a pretty straight-forward issue,” he said. “It’s an event you can easily recover from. ... That could be easily corrected.”
The printer, identified by Borgsmiller as Addison-based ABS Graphics, did not return calls seeking comment.
Though it wasn’t immediately clear in the hours before polls closed how much the ballot problem would slow down counting of votes, many election officials downplayed the issue.
“We’re talking about a relatively small handful of ballots,” said Dan Curry, election commission spokesman for DuPage County. “It’s not a huge problem.”
Even in affected counties, many precincts reported that all their ballots were the proper size. In DuPage County, for instance, Curry said fewer than 25 precincts out of more than 350 came across faulty ballots.
DuPage officials were expected to redo the oversized ballots by transferring markings to ones that would fit — Republican and Democratic observers looking on, Curry said.
Winnebago County Clerk Margie Mullins said precincts in her north-central Illinois region reported ballots that were too large for machines. But she hastened to add the problem never affected anyone’s ability to vote.
Counties reporting ballot size problems, according to Borgsmiller, are: Winnebago, Vermilion, Iroquois, Douglas, Knox, Grundy, McLean, Warren, Lee, Bond, Bureau, Christian, Clark, Coles, DeWitt, DuPage, Edgar, Macon, Macoupin, McDonough, Moultrie, Putnam, Rock Island, Shelby and Tazewell.