Brazos County voters test out new voting machines ahead of Election Day

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 1:55 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Brazos County election officials gave voters an opportunity Tuesday to take the newly acquired voting machines for a test run ahead of the upcoming November elections.

Brazos County Commissioners voted in August to adopt new Hart InterCivic Verity Duo voting machines for future elections.

The changes come as 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. The bill also requires all voting systems in the state to be converted by 2026.

Brazos County replaced all 420 voting machines and added 60 new printers and scanners with ballot lockboxes ahead of the 2026 deadline. Election officials say the county judge is the only person that can access the paper ballot receipts. 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. More than 85,000 Brazos County residents voted in the November 2020 election and there were no cases of voter fraud, according to Hancock.

“We’ve been open to the public just for them to come by and be able to cast a ballot in the demo system, just so they know what to expect when they go to the polling place for November,” said Trudy Hancock, Brazos County Election Administrator. “Most people are happy that they do have a paper ballot to be able to look at to make sure that the machines cast the votes that they meant to cast.”

Hancock says voters should be able to adjust to the new machines reasonably quickly, and polling officials will also be in place to assist if needed. She noted that voters can’t leave the polling location with the paper printout.

“We want to be sure that people understand that the paper ballot is their official ballot, and it has to go in the scanner and go into the ballot box for their vote to be counted. I want to be sure that our voters know that they can’t leave the polling place with that piece of paper,” said Hancock.

Brazos County voters KBTX spoke with say they’re happy with the new machines.

“I thought it was easy to use. I’ve been an election judge in the past, and I thought, ‘oh, it should be really easy for me,’ and it was easy,” said Bryan resident, Rose Marie Swanson. “I think it’s good to have something that a person can look at and say, ‘yes, this is how I voted.’”

“It seems very simple. It’s very straightforward.”, said Bryan Resident Kristeen Roe. “I think that they’ll appreciate the fact that there’s an actual printed ballot and that ballot is maintained. Even though the initial process looks like it’s going to be an electronic reading, there’s a backup. That seems to have been the concern for most people. I think this should help people be a little bit more secure and trust the ballot process a little bit more.”

“Really, it’s very similar to what we’ve always done with just the machine. The only addition is you feed the paper ballot into the machine before you start, and then before you finish, you make sure you take it to a scanner and scan your ballot in. Other than that, it’s the same that it’s always been, said College Station resident David Hilburn. “At the end of the day, we want everyone to feel confident about their voting. What we don’t want is someone to not vote because they don’t think their vote will matter. We all want everyone to vote, and so I think the new system and the new procedures that are in place gives us the confidence that their vote, if they vote, will count.“

If you didn’t make it to the machine demonstrations, election officials say you can call to schedule an appointment to try the voting machines ahead of election day.

A video of the voting machines can also be viewed below.

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