Vermilion County Clerk, Cathy Jenkins, is extremely excited to announce the use of new voting machines beginning with the General Primary Election on March 17.

“When I took office, I immediately recognized the need for updated voting equipment. Over the past few years, our office has looked at ways to cut costs and we have applied for additional grant funds to help cover the cost of new machines, and I’m proud to say we were successful in purchasing new equipment without any additional burden to our current budget,” Jenkins said.

Part of the new system will utilize touchscreen technology to produce a paper ballot for tabulation. “We used touchscreens before, but the voter wasn’t able to physically touch their ballot, and a lot of voters voiced concern. We want the voters to know we listened, and now a voter can not only see their ballot, but they can physically touch it and put it into tabulator,” Clerk Jenkins said. The new touchscreen machines will handle the entire marking process, which will eliminate marginal marks and the need for interpretation of the voter’s mark.

The upgrade will be easier to manage for the election judges. The voting system will not only replace the old touchscreen, but the tabulators are being replaced as well. “The new system is significantly more efficient for our workers. It will be seamless to the voters in terms of how they place their vote. Administrators and election workers will see the tabulator changes,” Jenkins said.

“I want to stress that each vote is secure. Each tabulator has a memory stick that records the votes. At the end of the night, the memory stick gets uploaded into a specific laptop, which is exclusively hook connected to the power supply and a printer. All reports and votes are then uploaded into another memory stick that gets uploaded to the State and to our website for reporting. There is no direct uploading of votes to the internet or wifi from the machine itself,” Jenkins stressed.

The upgrade will make it easier for voters with disabilities to cast their vote not only in early voting, but on Election Day. All polling places will have at least one touchscreen marking device.

Vermilion County residents who, due to a disability, are unable to appear in person to register to vote may contact Jenny Marsh, Voter Registration Manager, at 217/554-1915 for assistance. “The office can arrange for in-home registration services,” County Clerk Cathy Jenkins said. Registration forms are also available by mail or may be printed from the County Clerk’s website at www.vercounty.org. Paperless online voter registration is also available on the same website under “County Clerk,” “Voter Information,” “Online Voter Registration.”

The last day for Vermilion County residents registering to vote or file changes of name/address prior to the March 17th General Primary Election under traditional Illinois voter registration is Tuesday, February 18th. Grace Period Registration and Voting will be conducted in-person at the County Clerk’s Office from Wednesday, February 19th through Tuesday, March 17th. Grace Period Registration requires two forms of identification, at least one of which includes a correct current address.

Illinois law provides for Early Voting & Vote by Mail for all registered voters, without the need to specify a reason for doing so. Those who wish to vote by mail may request an application from the County Clerk’s Office as soon as possible. A paperless online application for an early ballot is also available on our website. The last day in which a ballot can be mailed to a voter is Thursday, March 12th. In-Person Early Voting will be available at the County Voting Center beginning Thursday, February 6th through Monday, March 16th.

“Voters who are permanently disabled may call our office to get on a list to automatically receive a Vote by Mail application for every election. We work to keep voting as convenient as possible,” Jenkins said.

For further information about voting by mail, early voting, and the election machines, please call Lindsay Light, Chief Deputy County Clerk/Supervisor of Elections at 217/554-1911 or email ccelections@vercounty.org.