Jersey Village to use paper ballots in May election

The City of Jersey Village will use a paper ballot voting system for its May 12 city council election due to the regular Harris County electronic equipment not being available to rent.

To improve the voting process for military and overseas voters who may encounter time delays with the standard vote by mail process, the Texas Legislature enacted Senate Bill 100 last year. The bill requires that ballots be mailed or emailed to military and overseas voters no later than 45 days before the election.

The change means that the early voting period for the primary runoff election will interfere with municipal elections as the May uniform election date will now fall between the March primary and the May primary runoff. For 2012, early voting for the primary runoff will begin two days after the May uniform election date, making it impossible for the county to provide electronic voting equipment to Jersey Village.

"Since we won't be able to rent any machines from the county, we had to figure out a way to operate our election," said Lorri Coody, city secretary.

For the upcoming election, all voters will use paper ballots with the exception of disabled voters who will use the AutoMARK electronic machine for assistance.

Rather than purchase devices, city council decided to lease election equipment because there is too much uncertainty in the election arena due to the legislative change, Coody said.

"The main reason why we decided to lease equipment instead of buying it is because we hope that the county equipment will be freed up in future elections," she said. "Harris County has always been very good to the city in terms of our election services. We always worked will together and enjoyed a good working relationship."

On average, rental costs paid to Harris County over the past seven years was $3,744 per election. It is estimated that going with the AutoMARK rental solution and the paper ballot will cost approximately $800 less per year per election.