Madison County would be required to purchase more than 225 laptops if a proposal pending in Springfield becomes law. It would require larger counties to provide laptops at each of its precincts, and while that may be fine in Cook or DuPage counties, it’s too costly and impractical for most. If the law passes, counties with more than 200,000 residents would have to provide each precinct with an electronic poll book on Election Day, allowing voters to connect to that county’s voter registration database. But unlike many northern counties, Madison County has large pockets of rural areas that render Wi-Fi and cell tower coverage spotty in some places and non-existent in others.
“To require us to have Wi-Fi in all 225 precincts is not practical for us,” Madison County Clerk Debra Ming-Mendoza told members of the county’s Government Relations Committee. “We’re in churches where they don’t have it, and, more importantly, it’s going to be very expensive. It would cost us over a million dollars to put electronic poll books in 225 precincts.”
Ming-Mendoza and other clerks belonging to the Illinois County Clerk’s Association are lobbying against the bill, which is only a small part of a much larger bill.
Metro Counties of Illinois, which lobbies on behalf of Madison County and many other counties, opposes the bill for being, among other things, an unfunded mandate, says Madison County Administrator Joe Parente.