By Tim McNicholas

WOODSTOCK, Ill. (CBS) — Counties across Illinois are sorting through an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, and not all of them have the staffing we see in the city.

So how are they handling the surge?

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Officials in McHenry County gave CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas a look at their gameplan, and their newest tools.

If you voted by mail in McHenry County, your ballot might zip through the new Agilis Ballot Sorting System – or as county Clerk Joe Tirio calls it, “Big Al.”

“It makes things a lot faster,” Tirio sad. “Incredibly faster.”

Big Al can sort and scan hundreds of ballot envelopes per minute to help the clerk’s team verify the signatures and spot anything unusual.

“That way, if there’s two ballots inside of the envelope or something other than an envelope, those are rejected in those first two pockets and then we can address those after the fact,” Tirio said.

Tirio said the $250,000 machine, pad for with money from the CARES Act, is saving his team hours.

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Once the ballots are verified, judges in another room separate them from the envelope with the voter’s name on it.

“At this point, we’ve lost the ability to track them or know who voted for what,” Tirio said.

Those ballots will later be scanned by another machine and your vote is cast.

“It’s a mix of Democrats and Republicans,” Tirio said. “They are under a watchful eye. There’s a camera right above my head.”

Tirio said the cameras are another tool that can prevent voter fraud. He knows some voters are concerned, but he said voter fraud is highly unlikely.

“It would take a considerable conspiracy of a number of people who are willing to risk federal penitentiary to steal a couple ballots here and there, and that to me is improbable,” Tirio said.

Voters can also track their ballot online up to the point when they’re done with Big Al, and reach the room with the judges. It’s another first, in an election that is full of them.

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Tim McNicholas