I was invited to attend a press conference with Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman during the International Association of Government Officials conference. We were allowed to visit with the vendors of new voting machines, all including a paper trail. Here are the highlights of the press conference:
- Our current machines are over 20 years old
- New machines are targeted for the 2021 elections
- It will cost roughly $74 Million to procure about 5000 machines (Very rough estimate)
- The goal is to make it simple to vote and trustworthy
- Harris County received a $250,000 grant to educate the county on voting centers
- Voting centers have been implemented, voting hours have been extended, early voting locations are now voting centers, its easier to vote in Harris County.
Old Voting Machine Technology
Remember that at one point or another a ballot is scanned and tallied by a machine. 20 years ago the paper ballots (shad ballots) were tallied by a machine but the ballots could be manually recounted if needed. I didn’t hear anyone complaining about those machine being manipulated to skew the vote.
We then converted to a Hart machine with the strange dial. That machine allowed the voter to make their selections and the machine would tally the votes. There is no paper trail.
|Dominion Voting Machine|
New Voting Machine Technology
The new machines will eventually tally the vote just like they did 20 years ago but there will be a paper trail. A touch screen will allow a voter to easily make their selections. Then a ballot is printed for the voter to review. That paper ballot is then scanned, tallied, and securely stored.
But, there are options. The voter can actually simply print a ballot, color in the dots with a sharpie, then have the machine tally the vote and store the ballot. Or a configuration (one I did not like) would print the ballot and display it behind a glass screen for review before being tallied and stored.
I found that most of the screens were easy to use, allowing the voter to increase the font size, color, background, and more. They were easy to use. The Hart machines were small. I wasn’t impressed. I found the machines by Dominion Voting to be easy to use. Election Systems and Software was BIG.
Trautman has a schedule to bring a new system to the voters in 2021 and will be looking for input from the Harris County community.