WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- As the March primary draws nearer, a new state-of-the-art vote processing center is now open in Lake County, Illinois.
It automates the entire vote-by-mail process, which is becoming more popular.
In one hour, the machines do the work it used to take several Lake County employees several days to finish.
They can print, track and send out mail-in ballots to voters.
"Every part of the process was done by a person. Not only does that take a lot of time, but it makes it difficult to verify the accuracy of that process," said Val Guyett, with BlueCrest.
They even cut a ceremonial ribbon opening the room.
With the help of about $3 million in federal funding, the county converted what used to be a basement storage room into a processing center for mail-in ballots.
And with the growing popularity of voting by mail, county officials say it will make a big difference.
"It's going to automate so many processes, reduce waste, save money and improve accuracy," Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart said.
The system will allow the county to track when ballots are sent and delivered to individual voters, as well as when they are returned.
It will also help them tabulate the votes more efficiently on election night.
And the room will allow access for media and the public to ensure the process is transparent.
"We have to be fair and accurate in the work we do. These are the tools that help us to do that," Lake County Clerk Anthony Vega said.
Early voting in-person at the clerk's office begins Feb. 8. That's the same day they'll put the machines to good use, sending out vote-by-mail ballots in advance of the primary election, March 19.