Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots and her staff are staying busy as they work to comply with an unfunded state mandate ahead of the March 15 primary that requires certain Illinois counties to offer same-day voter registration at every polling place. Start-up costs carry a price tag of more than $1 million for just Will County when taking into account the required staff time, printed materials, additional training for election judges and the installment of Internet capabilities, among other factors, Schultz Voots said. “All these little things add up,” Schultz Voots said, noting how extension cords alone cost $4,000. The law requires Schultz Voots to equip the county’s 300 polling places with electronic poll books – or computer tablets with voting and registration capabilities. The law only applies to counties with a population of 100,000 or more, or those already using electronic poll books.
For the past two weeks, staff have been meticulously color coding the electronic poll books and accessories in hopes of minimizing confusion on Election Day when volunteer judges hold the responsibility of getting the tablets up and running.
Schultz Voots’ office has entered into a $878,019 contract with Election Systems & Software – known as ES&S – to comply with the changes. As part of that contract, the 640 tablets – two for each precinct – is costing Will County $553,600.