New voting equipment OKd
Hays County election workers will have new equipment to check in voters at the polls after the commissioners court approved a purchase of new voter registration equipment on Tuesday.
Jennifer Anderson, county elections administrator, requested approval to purchase the new equipment and an overall election management system from Tenex Software Solutions.
“This is in our budget requests for the 2019 fiscal year budget,” Anderson told the commissioners, but moving the purchase up will allow the county to use funds from the Office of the Secretary of State for a portion of the purchase.
“This purchase today would allow us to use $35,909.71 of Chapter 19 funding that’s about to expire,” she said.
The remainder of the funds needed for the purchase — $63,695.29 — will come from the administrator’s election contract fee fund, meaning that no additional money from the county was required for the purchase.
The new equipment would do away with paper sign-in at polling places; rather than put their signatures on stickers printed out by the poll workers, voters would sign in on an iPad, and there would be a printed receipt of the voters’ signatures. Anderson said that with the new equipment, she would also continue with paper sign-in for at least a couple of elections to make sure that the new equipment was running smoothly.
Anderson also said that right now, poll workers use laptops that are hooked up with a number of wires. The iPads that would be used with the new system would eliminate a lot of the work of setup at the polls, she said.
Members of the public voiced concerns about the equipment and brought up the 2016 election, in which more than 1,800 votes went missing, and a lawsuit in Dripping Springs over a school district bond election.
“I really think y’all ought to table this until we can get a better understanding of how this system works,” Hays County resident Dan Lyon said. Fellow Hays County resident Harvey Jenkins echoed Lyons’ request.
“We don’t need to have any more electronic apparati at our polling places,” Jenkins said, voicing concerns about hacking during the 2016 election.
“When you talk about hacking, I don’t believe we had anybody hacked. In fact I think by doing this, we can improve our election process,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe said. “ … We understand what happened before, and we want to avoid that happening again.”
Ingalsbe confirmed that this is separate from new voting machines, which will be part of the Fiscal Year 2019 budget discussions.
Anderson also confirmed that the voter registration equipment does not record votes and that there will always be verification of the voters’ signatures. The commissioners approved the purchase unanimously.