Bexar County commissioners vote in favor of buying new voting machines

By Stephanie Serna - Reporter

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas - Bexar County commissioners have voted in favor of purchasing new voting machines for the county.

The county will use Election Systems and Software's ExpressVote. This is the same vendor the county currently uses.

Jacque Callanen, Bexar County elections administrator, said Bexar County has been using the same voting machines since 2002 and that it's time for an upgrade. The current machines have been used in more than 450 elections, casting more than 7 million votes.

"We’ve gone from the flip-phone to the iPhone, and that makes a difference," she said. "Just like on your iPhones, you can enlarge the texts. This can do that on these touch screens.”

The new machines will also address voters’ concerns about wanting a paper trail.

"We’ve heard what everybody’s been saying. For them to feel secure about their vote, they want to see it. They want to touch it. They want that paper verification, and that’s what we’re going to do," Callanen said.

Callanen said the new machines use a blended system that will allow voters to continue use the touch screen, but then the voter will get a printout of their vote, which they can hold and look at before they submit it into a scanner.

Callanen said down the road, it may allow people to vote at any voting location in Bexar County, which may help cut down on voting locations and personnel. 

Callanen said elections officials will go back before commissioners in 30 days for a vote on the contract after working out some details such as including Spanish language printouts, as well as the cost, which could range anywhere between $9 million to $12 million, depending on how many machines they will have to buy after they look at the possibility of being able to vote from any polling site in Bexar County.

"So now, we’ll have the best of both worlds — the touch screen voting along with the paper trail," said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. "More expensive — it’s going to cost us money, but it’s best that we get it done.”

County Commissioners are hoping to showcase the new voting machines by the May 4 election. Voters should actually get to use them during the Nov. 5 election.

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