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Tazewell County voters can track their mailed ballots starting in November

Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman
Steve Stein
Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman

Tazewell County is hiring KNOWiNK, a Missouri company, to print and mail all of its vote-by-mail ballots. KNOWiNK will be paid $48,601 for the work for the Nov. 5 election.

"They'll do everything except open and tabulate the ballots. We will continue to do that," said County Clerk John Ackerman, who said he wanted to inform the board about his decision to hire KNOWiNK Wednesday before he announced it at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

Ackerman said switching to KNOWiNK will create an estimated $10,000 savings for the county in labor costs and the cost of buying a new printer. Plus, he said, mailing costs will be cheaper.

Voters will be able to track their mail-in-ballots created by KNOWiNK, Ackerman said, a much-needed service.

"We received a primary election ballot last Tuesday (June 18) that was mailed at the Pekin Post Office on March 19, one day before the primary," Ackerman said. "That was one of about 30 primary ballots that were mailed on time and got to us too late. That's just not acceptable."

Vote-by-mail has increased dramatically in Tazewell County in recent years, increasing the county employees' workload.

There were 4,331 vote-by-mail requests in the 2012 presidential election. That number rose to 15,076 in 2020 and as of April, 7,809 vote-by-mail requests had been received.

Ackerman said KNOWiNK ran Cook County's mail-in-ballot operation for the March primary election, and several other counties across the state are considering hiring the company.

Steve Stein is an award-winning news and sports writer and editor. Most recently, he covered Tazewell County communities for the Peoria Journal Star for 18 years.