Roughly 20 people took an early look at the new electronic voting machines that Atascosa County is rolling out during a presentation led by Atascosa County Judge Robert Hurley at the Pleasanton Lions Club on Oct. 15.
The electronic voting machines have touch screens on which voters press to make a selection.
This is said to remove voting errors made on paper ballots when people either do not completely fill a box next to a candidate’s name or makes another mistaken mark on the ballot.
Once the selection is made, the voter goes to the next race. When the voter finishes, the ballot card that shows all the selections is printed and he or she puts it in the ballot box.
“We are going to have manual ballots because we’re a little bit scared we don’t know whether we have enough machines. It’s going to be a new thing. We’ll get a little bit backed up. But in 2020, manual ballots will not be available because you can’t be countywide with paper ballots,” said Atascosa County Judge Robert Hurley.
Straight party voting is available. Someone who uses straight party will jump to races not including party voting after making that selection. The Texas state legislature eliminated straight party voting for 2020.
Atascosa County purchased the voting machines from Electronic Systems and Software.
Poll workers look up a registered voter’s name on a computer and can swipe a driver’s license. Janice Ruple said that by using a computer to check off the voter’s name, a voter would be prevented from voting at another precinct because he or she would have already been entered as having submitted a ballot. Anyone who needs help with the e-poll book can ask for help.
“We’ll have signs up that any election worker can help. Just ask,” Hurley said. “But if they’re poll watchers or political people that have a legal right to be there — and there aren’t many — they cannot help.”
Hurley said that those who do not feel comfortable with the electronic machines can still use paper ballots.
The e-poll book does not require an Internet connection to work. When it reconnects to the Internet, it reconnects to the server.
The ballot box has a media stick screwed in and locked into the box. Hurley said that since the media stick is encrypted, it can only be read by the media software on the election computer. That, he said, protects it from hacking.
After the poll closes on election night, poll workers put the paper ballots and media stick in a case to bring where votes will be tabulated.