The vote is a foundational institution of our democracy, and the Cook County Clerk’s Office places paramount importance on protecting it. As the election authority for suburban Cook County, nothing is as important to the office of Cook County Clerk as ensuring that voters have complete faith and confidence in the security of our elections, knowing that their votes are accurately counted and the integrity of the process will be ceaselessly defended and protected. Here, on our Election Security page the Clerk’s strategy to defend and protect the vote are detailed. You can read our White Paper on election security, and potential concerns about election security are addressed in the FAQs below.
Election Security FAQs
- Will there be an offline daily backup of votes as they come in?
Because there is a paper ballot or paper audit trail that every voter reviews, there is always a back-up. Additionally, once the voting period concludes, Cook County maintains all records for audit or recount for a set period as per the State of Illinois’ requirements.
- Will there be an election audit to ensure accuracy?
Yes, there are multiple audits conducted throughout the election cycle. After each election five percent of all precincts and early voting machines are recounted and audited and close races are always open to be audited by campaigns if they choose. Additionally, Logic and accuracy tests are performed before every election on our voting equipment. We conduct forensic audits of our equipment as well.
- How will polling places check voters in if their internet goes down? Are there hard copies of pollbooks at all polling places?
Cook County’s pollbooks are designed to function without Internet access. They can still access the most recent copy of registered voters’ details needed for check-in. In addition, polling places are equipped with a paper copy of pollbooks (i.e. signature books).
- At polling places with voting machines, what's the plan if a machine breaks, especially during peak times?
If all machines are down, voters vote on the optical scan ballot and place it in a secure ballot bin for scanning at a later time when full power is restored. Each polling place has multiple touchscreen machines with paper trail devices and the optical scan paper ballot scanning machines. We have multiple regional election support facilities, strategically located thought the County to respond to any additional needs at the polling places, including repairing and replacing machines that are not working properly.
- Does our district use electronic voting or paper ballots? Will each polling center have pre-printed signage that instructs voters on alternative options? What plans are there to accommodate voters with disabilities in this case?
At Cook County, our voters choose between an optical scan ballot marked with a pen, or the use of a touch-screen device that creates an auditable paper trail that is reviewed prior to casting a ballot. The paper trail is used for all audits and recounts. There are printed signs posted at the polling places to guide voters. In addition, at the time of check-in, elections workers can help with accommodations for any special needs or preferences.
- Does our district have backup pollbooks to check in voters if there’s a problem with electronic pollbooks?
We have backup paper pollbooks in the event of wholesale failure of electronic pollbooks. Note also that each precinct has multiple electronic pollbooks. In addition, we have multiple regional election support facilities strategically located throughout the County to respond to any need at the polling places, including repairing and replacing electronic pollbooks.
- At polling places that use paper ballots, are there enough copies for 100% of registered voters? What about adequate numbers of provisional ballots?
Each precinct is supplied with enough paper ballots and provisional ballots to handle the turnout. In addition, we have multiple regional election support facilities, strategically located throughout the County, to respond to any additional needs at the polling places.