Fort Bend County commissioners explore new voting machine options

Fort Bend County officials are considering implementing new voting machines.

Fort Bend County officials are considering implementing new voting machines.

Editor's note: This story was updated Aug. 23 to include information from a workshop presented to Fort Bend County Commissioners Court Aug. 13 from Hart InterCivic after Election Systems & Software presented. 

Fort Bend County officials are exploring new voting machines to update the nearly 15-year-old voting system currently in place.

During a workshop Aug. 13, Fort Bend County Commissioners Court heard from representatives with Election Systems & Software as well as Hart InterCivic, who both presented touch-screen ballot-marking devices that would provide voters with printouts of their ballots.

Although using a touch screen may result in faster voting, county Elections Administrator John Oldham anticipates no overall time savings should the county move forward with using these new machines.

“It is possible that using a touch screen may be faster than navigating with the wheel,” Oldham said. “However, that will be negated by the time that it takes the unit to print the ballot, and the voter to carry it to the tabulator.”

However, a new system could accelerate the reporting of final results by electronically submitting results from regional sites to the election office, Oldham said. Under the current system, results are transported to regional sites and then physically transported to the election office to be totaled, he said.

Should the county opt to implement these new voting machines, it could take an additional four to five weeks to unpack and test the equipment, Oldham said.

“We will also have to allow time to train our poll workers on new equipment and procedures and to do some voter education,” he said.

To learn more about the machines, click here to view the workshop details at the end of the Aug. 13 agenda.

The Fort Bend County Commissioners Court will meet again Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. at the Fort Bend County Courthouse, 401 Jackson St., Richmond.
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