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Citizen Group Questions QR Codes for Voting Audits

New voting machines being used in Cook County use a QR code for the voting audit paper trail. (Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners)
New voting machines being used in Cook County use a QR code for the voting audit paper trail. (Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners)
February 20, 2020

CHICAGO -- Early voting for the March 17 primary is now under way for some Illinoisans, but a citizens group contends voters should wait until Election Day to cast a ballot.

Chicago Board of Elections' new Loop Super Site opened on Wednesday, and features new touch screen voting machines and ballot scanners.

Dr. Lora Chamberlain is on the board of the group Clean Count Cook County, which maintains the ballot marking devices have significant flaws.

"They print a QR code on the ballot and that's what's counted," she explains. "Not the choices written out, but the QR code.

"And there's no smart app, there's no machine, it's proprietary. So the voters can never actually know what's being counted off their ballot."

The machines print a paper record of the voter's selections, but Chamberlain notes it doesn't show races the voter might have missed on the ballot.

Election officials contend the new system is secure, and note a recorded image of the ballot is kept for 22 months.

These are the first new voting machines for Chicago and Cook County since 2005, when punch card equipment was last used.

And Chamberlain says security experts believe ballot marking devices can be easily hacked without detection.

"All of the top level election integrity specialists have agreed that these machines have serious election security flaws," she stresses.

Clean Count Cook County maintains Chicago and Cook County voters should wait until primary day, March 17, and cast a ballot at their local precincts, where they can opt to use a hand-marked paper ballot.

Traditional early voting begins statewide on March 2.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL