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County to Use New Paper Audit Trail Voting System

Open Houses Allow Voters to Try New System Before Election

When Williamson County voters head to the polls this fall, they will be using new voting equipment that provides a paper audit trail. The new system by Election Systems and Software (ES&S) is a two-step process that allows voters to make selections on an electronic marking device, then provides a printed ballot voters will scan into an electronic tabulator.

“As reassurance that their vote is being cast exactly as they wish, this new voting system lets voters review their paper ballot prior to submitting it for scanning,” said Elections Administrator Chris Davis. “It also provides for a paper audit trail of all votes for a given election.”

To help voters become acquainted with the new system, the Elections Department is hosting open houses where voters can stop by and use the new system to cast votes for a fictional election in the Land of Oz. Voters also can stop by the Elections Department during Voter Drop-In Hours to use the equipment.

The ExpressVote uses touch-screen technology that produces a paper-based ballot for tabulation. As a marking device, the ExpressVote handles the entire marking process, eliminating marginal marks and the need for interpretation of the voter’s mark. Voters will receive an activation card (ballot) with their ballot style printed on the card to begin the process. Voters will then insert their card into the marking device, make their selections, verify the selections made, and print the ballot. Voters then review the selections printed on the ballot for accuracy before taking the ballot over the DS200 for tabulation.

“Our forefathers fought, lived and died for the right to vote, so the method we use to exercise that right is of the utmost importance to us in Williamson County. We invested $4.4 million dollars in our new voting system so that our citizens can cast their ballot in a safe and secure fashion, and it gives them peace of mind knowing there is a paper audit trail attached to their vote,” said County Judge Bill Gravell.

Open houses are scheduled as follows:

  • Tuesday, August 13, at Cedar Park Library, 550 Discovery Boulevard, Cedar Park 5:30pm-8pm.
  • Thursday, August 15, at Hutto Public Library, 500 W Live Oak Street, Hutto 5:30pm-8pm.
  • Monday, August 19, at Williamson County Inner Loop Annex, 301 S.E. Inner Loop, Georgetown 5:30pm-8pm.

The Elections Department, 301 S.E. Inner Loop, Georgetown, offers Voter Drop-in Hours on:

  • Tuesday, August 20, from 3-5pm.
  • Wednesday, August 21, 1-3pm.
  • Thursday, August 22, 1pm-3p.m.
  • Friday, August 23, 10am-12noon.

The county’s purchase included 800 ballot marking devices and 115 electronic  precinct tabulators. Two high-speed electronic tabulators will be used in Central Count primarily for the tabulation of mail ballots, along with other necessary software, cases and accessories. The total purchase was approximately $4.4 million. The county is received a trade-in allowance on old equipment of $346,000.

While the cost may seem high, the mission of Election Systems & Software is to provide valuable, trusted, and proven election equipment and services to election administrators. With so much in the news regarding electoral integrity, having cutting-edge systems that continually evolve will provide better elections to promote democracy and peace of mind to those who come to the polls. 

This is the same voting system purchased by Travis County. Both counties will be using the new voting system for the first time in the November 2020 General Election.

For more in-depth information on the new voting equipment, visit  www.wilco.org/wilcovotes.

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