Plans for a $90,000 upgrade election equipment could mean fewer lines for voters, more information on Election Day and less set up for poll workers, Hays County officials said.
On July 24, Hays County Commissioners unanimously approved a technology upgrade from Tenex Software Solutions to help overhaul the system that checks voters in at the polls on Election Day and during early voting. The new equipment will not tally votes, but will help bring the voter check in process into the 21st century, said Hays County Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson.
The upgrade will mean moving from cabled printers to a wireless system in which voters can fill out the same documents on iPads and have a small receipt with their signatures printed out for them.
In the long run, using less paper will save the county money, Anderson said. It will take voters less time to sign in, save poll workers time setting up and decrease the weight of the equipment they carry. The new system will also improve live reporting on Election Night, and feature more detailed information, Anderson said.
The system, with the iPads, licensing and other equipment will cost about $90,000, Anderson said. It was requested in the 2019 budget, and is cheaper than updating the laptops currently used at polling places, she said.
“I’m excited we’ve been able to make this purchase,” Anderson said. “I think voters will like it. I know poll workers will.”
Several community members, however, cautioned commissioners against the move, citing previous mistakes with counting votes in Hays County over the years.
Following the 2016 election, Hays County officials discovered 1,800 votes were not counted due to a policy lapse at an early voting lcoation. The issue led to community outcy, along with discussion from Hays County officials and leaders to possibly replace outdated voting equipment.
“We don’t need to have any more electronic aparati [sic]in polling places,” said Hays County resident Harvey Jenkins. “What we need to have is more stringent way of doing things to make sure when we vote our votes are not miscounted, not lost.”
New voting machines will be brought up during Hays County’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget talks.