It’s not politics in question here, but whether voters will still have such a “thing” as paper ballots by then.
This week Hardin County commissioners heard a presentation from a representative of one of the cutting edge companies in electronic voting. Ken Tretheway was “pitching” the virtues of the Hart Intercivic electronic voting system. It is used in 17 states, but generates up to 70% of its revenue from Texas.
It would mean a complete switch to only electronic voting. No paper ballots.
Tretheway tried to cast his persuasive spell on a panel that has largely opposed electronic voting. The reason? The belief that only having electronic voting could alienate some older voters who are not as familiar with it. All 4 commissioners have expressed concerns that the number of voters could go down as a result.
Precinct 3 commissioner Ken Pelt said, “The older people are not going to vote this system… I don’t think this county is ready to go 100% electronic… We have a lot of people that are set in their ways.”
The plan would involve using the Hart Intercivic machines in a trend toward what are called Vote Centers. They would be more convenient to voters and with the new system, would reduce the number of polling locations and permit voters to go to any polling location on Election Day.
Theoretically, the upgrade would save the county money. Fewer machines and poll workers would be required and the costs of paper and printing would be eliminated.
By contrast, Hardin County Judge Wayne McDaniel seemed interested in exploring the proposal. While admitting that he would face opposition from his wife (who likes voting by paper ballot) McDaniel appeared to be willing to at least examine potential reforms in the future, if it would save the county money.
“If you were to ask me if I would oppose eliminating paper ballots to avoid a conflict at home, I’d probably say something along the lines of, ‘I believe we could get past that, especially once she realized we were saving taxpayers money.’” McDaniel said.
Right now, Hardin County voters get a paper ballot or vote on the Variety voting system which has been in place since 2005. Hardin County has approximately 23 VBC, 23 E-Slate, and 23 E-scan machines.
Tretheway proffered that voting systems should be changed out every decade and asked commissioners if it is better to revise the current system, or buy a brand new system. Judge McDaniel gave tepid agreement to eventual change, telling the Ledger.
“I feel like at some point in time we will need to change to the new machines, I do however feel we are not ready to make this change just yet, financially.”
A full Hart Intercivic system (140 machines) would cost roughly $800,000. But replacing only the current machines and continuing paper balloting would cost half that amount. Roughly $400,000.
The Hart Intercivic system would not be state certified until August 2016, and all sales would be void if the system fails to pass muster. There is also a chance the system would not be available for the Presidential election in November 2016 anyway even if Hardin County were to approve a system immediately.
So it looks like Donald Trump might get his paper ballot support this November after all. And maybe a few other candidates too. End of trick questions.