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Denton County first in country to unveil new voting equipment

Denton County first in country to unveil new voting equipment

September 19
20:58 2017

Following the series of glitches that required multiple recounts during the November election, the Denton County Elections Administration has replaced its voting equipment after a vote to approve the new system on June 20.

The new system, Hart InterCivic’s Verity, is a ballot on demand system that will be electronic-based and have a paper trail for voters and officials. The system is designed to be easy, versatile and trustworthy, according to the website. Officials can also audit results in a simpler way if needed.

The true paper trail system was unveiled and demonstrated to a crowd of around 100 people on Sept. 12 and 13 and will be first used during early elections in late October.

“We are the first county in the United States that’s implementing the paper ballot on demand system,” Frank Phillips, the elections administrator for Denton County said.

At the last election, polls at a few voting locations were left in test mode and didn’t record some votes. Memory cards that scan the paper ballots were also mislabeled and used in the wrong machine. Another issue from that night was ballot boxes out of order and ballots inside the boxes looking like a “birds nest,” Judge Mary Horn said to the North Texas Daily in November.

The ballots were counted a total of three times.

At the time, Lannie Noble was the elections administrator. Soon after, he resigned and then-Tarrant County elections administrator Phillips took over.

Former candidate for state representative, Read King, said he has worked in information technology for 15 years and noted having a paper trail is important.

“At some point, it comes down to a level of trust,” King said. “Integrity of a vote is very important no matter where you are on the political spectrum.”

Phillips said that the issues in November weren’t the only reasons for getting the new machines. The system being used was 12 years old and was only expected to last for 15 years.

“Essentially, electronic voting is to aid people and prints a paper ballot out,” King said. “I know there are a lot of people are like ‘why do we need to go back to paper voting?'”

The product itself can be configured in three different ways. Votes can be cast all electronically, hybrid or just paper. The method Denton County will be using is the paper method.

Phillips said the new equipment is ready to be used for the next election and those who tested it had positive feedback.

In electronic voting, everything happens on a touchscreen. A paper ballot is printed to keep a record for the voter and is run through another scantron machine to record.

Despite the counting glitches from last year’s elections, Phillips said it was nearing time for the elections administration to get a new voting system anyway.

“At the end of the day, regardless if there were any issues or if there is a recount that candidates sometimes request, we can return to the very ballot that the voter cast,” Phillips said.

Phillips noted with the advancements of technology, as well as the wear and tear of the old equipment, it was time to explore new options.

“We are extremely excited to have it and grateful to purchase a new system,” Phillips said.

Featured Image: A Poll Pad sits on display at the Denton County Elections Administration. Open houses were held September 12-13 to give the public a firsthand look at new voting equipment. Mallory Cammarata

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Julia Falcon

Julia Falcon

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