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Brazos County elections officials test new voting machines ahead of November elections

Voters will use the new systems in November’s upcoming elections
Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 3:16 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Officials with the Brazos County Election Administration office began testing new voting equipment recently acquired. Senate Bill 598 was passed in June and went into effect on Sept. 1, 2021. The bill requires all Texas voting systems to leave a paper trail of votes. State law also requires that all machines be tested before being used in elections.

Brazos County Commissioners voted unanimously back in August to replace the voting machines with the new Hart InterCivic Verity Duo voting machines. The county replaced all 420 voting machines and added 60 new printers and scanners with ballot lockboxes that hold the paper receipt. Election officials say the county judge is the only person that can access the paper ballot receipts.

Senate Bill 598 required all voting systems statewide to be converted by 2026, but Brazos County opted to have the new machines in place sooner than later.

Voters will use the new systems in November’s upcoming elections. Officials with the election administration say the new machines should give voters peace of mind as it relates to the integrity of the voting process.

“We have a pretty large group in the county who prefer to have paper ballots, and this system is really the best of both worlds. We can still handle everything electronically on the machines. The touch screen is still very interactive like it always was. The only thing that’s added is now the paper component,” said Trudy Handcock, Brazos County Election Administrator. “If someone requests a hand count or a recount for some reason and want to do it manually, then we already have those paper ballots, and they’re ready to be separated and counted.”

Handcock says the new process should not delay election results.

“It’s going to be a little bit of extra paperwork for our judges the first couple of elections. It may take them just a little bit longer,” said Handcock. “All they do is they bring in the media out of the machine, out of the ballot box. They bring in the V drive just like they’ve always done in the past and the voted ballots, and they turn those in at central count. Then the media is what’s read into the computer that night.”

Handcock says voters should be able to adjust to the new machines fairly quickly, and polling officials will also be in place to assist if needed.

“We’ll have extra staff in the polling place, but we will be doing some demos. We don’t have those scheduled yet,” said Handcock. We’re trying to wait to make sure that we get everything tested before we deploy anything. By Texas law, we have to put each piece of equipment through a series of tests before deploying them. We’re in the process of doing that right now, and as soon as we get that done, then we’ll set up some demos.”

Hart InterCivic is based out of Austin, Texas.

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