DuPage County, IL. (ECWd) -
DUPAGE COUNTY ELECTION WATCHDOG JEAN KACZMAREK GIVES NOTICE OF INTENT TO SUE
ELECTION COMMISSION FOR ILLEGALLY WITHHOLDING SERIAL NUMBERS
OF DATED VOTING MACHINES CAST-OFF BY OTHER COUNTIES NOW IN DUPAGE
GLEN ELLYN - Glen Ellyn resident and 13-year election watchdog Jean Kaczmarek gave notice to the DuPage County Board of Election Commissioners today of her intent to file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Commission for illegally withholding records about the 118 dated, cast-off voting machines acquired from the vendor they have "a lack of confidence" in - namely, Liberty Systems.
Kaczmarek's June 2018 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, denied by the County and currently on appeal to the Illinois Attorney General Office's Public Access Counselor, seeks bulk serial numbers found on the outside of vintage, out-of-warranty Diebold optical scan machines.
Kaczmarek plans to use these serial numbers to track the origin of the antiquated, cast-off machines. These 15-year-old machines were provided to DuPage County under a settlement agreement among the Election Commission, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and Liberty Systems, LLC, following DuPage's nationally-publicized 2018 Primary Election snafu due to faulty ender cards provided by the vendor. A reported 167 machines were damaged when the ender cards printed on too-thick paper stock were fed into the machines during the closing out the polling places. Confusion and miscommunication followed. Consequently, election results in DuPage were delayed for hours.
The terms of the dubious settlement were not publicly discussed or voted on prior to the May 9th Election Commission Board meeting, yet the agreement had already been fully prepared. The agreement was omitted in the agenda packet. Contracted attorney, Pat Bond of Bond, Dickson & Assoc., who oversaw the settlement, said the Commission had a "lack of confidence" in Liberty Systems. In addition to all contracts with Liberty Systems ending, the vendor was to repair or replace the broken machines with "like kind" models. The Board also agreed to pay Liberty Systems $187,469.86 for supplying the Commission with ballots and paper poll books in the Primary.
"My radar signals whenever a government body handles a delicate situation too quickly and too quietly. This was no exception," Kaczmarek explains. "What were they thinking accepting old equipment cast-off from other counties? Unacceptable. Surely, DuPage can do better."
Some 57 machines were repaired by Liberty Systems, leaving roughly 110 machines purchased in 2001 broken beyond repair. In June, the vendor delivered 118 "like kind" machines to the Commission. Kaczmarek is seeking the serial numbers found on the outside of these 118 voting machines. It is unknown if the Commission plans to use the machines or any of their components in future elections.
"Where did these used voting machines come from?" asks Kaczmarek. "Were they purchased on eBay? From an e-cycling firm? Or were they cast off by other counties and traded in for new machines at Liberty Systems? Citizens deserve to know. It is clearly a matter of accountability."
The Commission has denied Kaczmarek's FOIA request, calling it a threat to election security and an impermissible disclosure of private information, but Kaczmarek's lawyer, Daniel Massoglia, said that under the law, Kaczmarek -- and ultimately the public -- is entitled to the withheld records.
"FOIA stands for the principle that the people have a right to know what the government is doing in their name. There is no security threat in this information. If the Commission doesn't reconsider its illegal denials, we will enforce the public's right to know in court," Massoglia stated.
"A lawsuit is a time-consuming and expensive exercise," Massoglia adds. "Failing to honor the law now will leave DuPage County taxpayers on the hook."
Kaczmarek, who has been scrutinizing the DuPage County Election Commission since 2005 and is the Democratic candidate for DuPage County Clerk, is taking action now because she sees it as her responsibility as a member of the public to shine light on whether the County plans to use dated, out-of-warranty machines in future elections.
"Why should citizens be expected to have confidence in old, used voting machines from a company the Commission says it has a lack of confidence in?" Kaczmarek questions.
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