Denton County votes to return to paper ballots

Denton County votes to return to paper ballots

Denton County votes to return to paper ballots
July 07
16:17 2017

The Denton County Commissioners Court agreed on an update to the voting system, approving new paper ballot machines for the county on June 20.

Commissioner Andy Eads made a motion to approve Verity, a new paper ballot system. The chair of the Commissioners Court, Denton County Judge Mary Horn, seconded the motion in the Commissioners Court video from June 20. All the other members agreed.

“It’s very user-friendly and it provides a paper trail, transparency,” Eads said in the Commissioners Court video from June 20. “I think it satisfies what we need.”

Verity will replace Hart Intercivic, a system made in 2005. It has been used by Denton in past elections, Frank Phillips, the Denton County elections administrator said in the video.

“While it still performs its functions and does what it’s supposed to do, like any other piece of technology, it has become dated, harder to repair and we have more failure rates than we used to,” Phillips.

The new system the court approved to purchase is the only new system certified by the state of Texas and recently certified by the federal government, Phillips said.

The old voting machines required the county to preprint ballots in advance to elections. Phillips said if a federal position is on the ballot, the county is required by law to keep record for 22 months. This includes all unused preprinted ballots.

“They just sit in a warehouse and take up space,” Phillips said.

Phillips said Verity will print ballots as needed, which will allow the county to save about two-thirds the cost. Though, it does require some extra charges for toner and printer cartridges.

“You can now show up at the polling location, check in, they’ll scan the barcode with a scanner and print your appropriate ballot,” Phillips said.

Denton City Council Members are unsure at this time what changes and impact this will have on the City of Denton.

City Council Member for District 4, John Ryan said he has no opinion about it yet.

“I hadn’t really given it much thought until we know more about how the machines are actually going to work.”

Phillips said both the Republican and Democratic Party leaders in Denton County agree on paper ballots. He also mentioned it will help with issues that may come up, such as recounting.

“If you have a recount or another issue, you’re not relying on just electronic record, or cast record,” Phillip said. “You can go and look at every paper ballot that was cast. Something we haven’t been able to do in at least 12 years.”

Gerard Hudspeth, City Council Member for District 1, said the county would have to make these changes consistent throughout the various cities within the county.

“They manage the equipment,” Hudspeth said. “We wouldn’t have a separate set of equipment, city versus county.”

To some members of the community, it seems strange to go from electronic voting back to paper ballots.

Brandon Rivera, a junior in History at the University of North Texas and Denton resident, said he has always used electronic voting and never had a problem.

“I thought it was easy, fast and relatively painless,” Rivera said. “I don’t think it’s a huge negative thing, it seems weird that you would revert back to paper ballots because you never hear of anything reverting back to paper once it goes to electronic.”

Featured Image: The Denton County Commissioners Court agreed on an update to the voting system, approving new paper ballot machines for the county on June 20 because the paper ballot system is “very user-friendly and it provides a paper trail” according to commissioner Andy Eads. File

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Kaleigh Gremaud

Kaleigh Gremaud

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