Travis County selects new voting system - with paper trail

August 08, 2018 - 7:56 am
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AUSTIN (KJCE) -- Voters in Travis County will use a new voting system beginning in late 2019.

Travis County Commissioners approved an $8.16 million contract Tuesday with Election Systems & Software, calling for the county to acquire ES&S's ExpressVote system. Officials say in total, the system will cost roughly $9.7 million to implement.

The move comes after a multi-year review of different options available in the marketplace, and input from stakeholders across the county.

"I am thrilled Travis County will be able to provide voters with what they have been asking for - the convenience and accessibility of an electronic voting system coupled with the security of a paper trail," said Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir. "I am proud of our team, and the work that has been done so far, and I'm grateful for the Court's commitment to enhancing the security of the voting process in Travis County."

Officials say the process will be slightly different for voters than it is today. When a voter arrives at a polling place and checks in, they'll be given an activation card. That tells the voting machines which ballot to display. From there, a voter uses a touchscreen to cast their votes. When done, the voting machine will print a verifiable paper vote record, allowing the voter to check and make sure their ballot is accurate. Finally, the voter will take their paper vote record to a scanning device and insert it, at which point their vote will be cast.

Officials say a public education campaign will begin in summer 2019 to allow voters to be familiar with the system before the November 2019 elections and the 2020 election cycle.

The contract also calls for Travis County and ES&S to work together on the development of post-election Risk Limiting Audits, or RLAs. The county says this process allows election administrators to select a random sample of ballots and compare the paper record against the electronic record. County officials say they'll likely be the first jurisdiction in Texas to conduct RLAs.

Travis County currently uses the eSlate voting system from Hart Intercivic, purchased in 2001 at a total cost of about $6 million with just under $300,000 in annual costs. The new system, after the first year, will carry an annual cost of about $400,000.

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