POLITICS

Four weeks after precincts throughout Bell County ran out of ballots on Super Tuesday, Democrats are asking the Bell County Commissioners Court to implement electronic voting.

The Commissioners Court and the Bell County Elections Commission participated in a joint meeting March 23 to discuss what went wrong and consider ideas for improvements.

The commissioners do not intend to upgrade the county’s decades-old voting systems anytime soon but promised to order extra ballots for November.

Judge Jon Burrows said in an interview Monday that precincts ran out of ballots because of higher voter turnout than expected and a formula from the Secretary of State’s office that was a bit off, but the county’s system worked fine.

“Some people say the system is outdated, but we ran out of ballots,” Burrows said. “The problem was not with the voting system.”

Paper ballots can be physically counted, Burrows said, which gave added confidence during recounts.

However, members of the Bell County Democrats say upgrading to an electronic voting system will ensure everyone who wants to vote has the opportunity.

On Election Day, some prospective voters left after becoming frustrated with the long lines that built up while precincts waited to print additional ballots.

“You won’t run out of ballots with an electronic system,” said Louie Minor, who attended last week’s meeting and also served as an election judge.

Burrows said the Commissioners Court has received presentations from vendors about electronic voting systems, but a new system could cost anywhere from $2.5 million to $3.5 million.

Minor said the cost is worth it if it makes voting easier. “We need to make sure everyone has the chance to vote.”

Burrows also said the county cannot switch systems in the middle of an election cycle because a new system has to get approved by the state. Commissioners are also hesitant to purchase a new system now because it could be outdated by the time the next election cycle comes.

“If you follow that thought to a logical solution, you’ll never fix the problem,” said Chris Rosenberg, chairwoman of the Bell County Democrats.

Burrows said he anticipates the Commissioners Court will review options for other voting systems again next year.

Rosenberg said she is “shocked” the county will wait until next year to consider electronic voting. If a system were purchased and implemented sooner, she said, it would allow the county to work out any issues and allow people to get comfortable with the new system before the 2018 election.

Nancy Boston, chairwoman of the Bell County Republican Party, said she does not oppose electronic voting, but she does not want a paperless system. She also had concerns about people not knowing how to properly use electronic voting machines.

“It could turn into a nightmare. We need to look at the system in Bell County and see what will work most smoothly here,” she said.

For now, she said the priority must be making sure enough ballots are printed for the November general election.

The parties ran the primary elections, but the county will run the general election, Boston said.

Burrows said he is confident the county will not run out of ballots again. “We will be plenty aggressive ordering ballots. My guess is we will over order and have high-speed printers at each precinct.”

Contact Holden Wilen at hwilen@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7463​

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(1) comment

nulisecundus

of course the democrats want electronic voting, just like in Illinois the rigged machines changed republican vote to democrat.[sad]

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