Tarrant County election officials introduce residents to new voting machines

Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia demonstrates how to use the county's new voting machines Aug. 28.

Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia demonstrates how to use the county's new voting machines Aug. 28.

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Tarrant County residents will cast their ballots on new machines this year for both early voting and voting day on Nov. 5.

On Aug. 27, Tarrant County Commissioners adopted the Hart InterCivic Verity Voting System as the official voting system for the county, according to a county news release.

Earlier this month, commissioners approved an $11 million plan to purchase the voting equipment from Hart InterCivic, Elections Administrator Heider Garcia said. County commissioners had set aside the money for the new voting machines some time ago, he said.

These new machines will completely replace the machines the county has used in years past.

The new machines combine the best parts of the former system, Garcia said. Before, early voters were able to vote electronically, but would not receive a receipt or documentation to show their selections were counted. Voters who showed up on election day had to fill out paper ballots but had documentation to show their choices.

Now voting will be done in a two-step system, where voters will cast their ballots electronically using a touch screen. Following this, they'll receive a paper copy of their votes and insert this in a separate ballot box at the end of the process.

"Early voters get a paper trail, and Election Day voters get the precision and the accuracy of an electronic vote that does not have to interpret handmade marks—filling in the oval and circling the names—that might have been misread by a scanner. That's gone," Garcia said.

The voting machines the county had been using were about 15 years old, Garcia said, so it was time for an update to the system.

To help spread public awareness for the new machines, county officials have reached out to every city and school district to set up the new machines as public gatherings. The goal is to introduce the public to the machines before they have to use them for the November election, and answer any questions about them the public may have.

Another benefit of the new machines is they now allow residents to vote from any polling place within Tarrant County, according to the news release.

Early voting begins Oct. 21 and Election Day is Nov. 5.

See below for an instructional video showing how to use the new machines.
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