McHenry County clerk: Election Day communication issues are being addressed

 
 
Updated 5/3/2016 5:44 PM
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  • McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan promises to improve communication for future elections.

    McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan promises to improve communication for future elections.

McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan promised to improve future elections after a State Board of Elections review concluded some eligible voters may not have been able to cast their ballots on Election Day in March.

In a memo released last month, Kenneth Menzel, general counsel for the board of elections, detailed two main issues with the general primary in McHenry County: Communication problems and glitches in the electronic poll books that allow election officials to review voter data.

"Neither of these issues impacted the ballot tabulation operations, and we have not found anything that calls into question the accuracy of the vote totals processed and reported," Menzel said. "The issues may, however, have resulted in some eligible or potentially eligible voters not casting ballots."

Now, the clerk's office is implementing several measures, such as adding phone lines and testing poll books ahead of time, to ensure the next Election Day runs more smoothly.

"I promise that won't be an issue in November," McClellan said.

The problems during the March primary started when electronic poll books weren't working in several polling places. A judge then ordered to extend voting hours 90 minutes countywide, and vote tallying continued well past midnight.

As a result, county staff members were pulled off other duties to help with the poll books and extended hours, which left fewer staff to handle phone calls, Menzel said. Additionally, the clerk's general phone line was sent to an automated message after the office's normal business hours, he said, meaning several callers could not get through to the staff.

The number of incoming and outgoing calls to the clerk's office is limited to 75, McClellan said, so the county is working with AT&T to increase the number of available phone lines for future elections to 150. The clerk's office will also have two call centers -- one for the public and another for election judges -- staffed with 20 people each, she said.

McClellan said she may implement software to streamline communication between the clerk's office and election judges, such as an app that would send mass text updates or dispatch staff members to polling places if a problem arises.

Additionally, McClellan promised the clerk's office staff would test every single electronic poll book before Election Day.

"Long lines, I can't help because we want people to vote," she said. "But this I can."

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