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New voting machines provide paper trail

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Travis County voters will have a chance this November to use a brand-new voting machine that creates a paper record – which county voters have been seeking for “a very long time,” Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir told Council at Tuesday’s work session. Not only did she discuss the machine, she brought several with her so that anyone at City Hall, including an Austin Monitor reporter, could take it for a spin. It was easy to use and staff members from DeBeauvoir’s office were standing by to explain each step of the process. One staffer, Drew Dillard, explained, “This is not a computer. It doesn’t have a hard drive. It will not remember what you did. So everything that you did will only be on the written ballot.” So obviously, it’s very important that the written ballot reflect what the voter intends. You put your paper ballot into the slot and choose your candidate for each race. When you’re done, you push the button to print the ballot and the machine spits it out. If you change your mind about any of your selections, you can give your ballot to the official in charge of ballots and get a new one. Once you verify the ballot, you put it into the ballot box, which creates an electronic record and keeps the paper copy in case it’s needed later. DeBeauvoir told Council, “We keep the paper, we use the electronic copy to make fast and accurate results available on election night.” She said her office will be using what are called “risk limiting audits,” which confirm the accuracy of the election. She said this type of audit will not require a candidate with standing to request it. “On the authority of the elections administrator you can use the risk limiting audit … without the burden placed on the losing candidate,” or the expense. At least 46 other counties in Texas will be using these new machines this year.

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