The Montgomery County Commissioners Court started discussions to purchase around 1,900 new voting machines to replace outdated ones for county elections moving forward.
Montgomery County Elections Administrator Suzie Harvey said the new machines will be needed because the current machines were purchased in 2005, and at this time getting replacement parts and machines are all used or difficult to acquire.
The cost for replacing the machines is estimated to be between $8.5 million-$9 million. The cost would cover the hardware and software needed to create the election database and program all of the machines.
“As it stands now, we were spread very thin for the November election as far as equipment,” Harvey said. “Especially when we added the early voting locations that we needed. That spread our standby equipment even further. ... We are just at bare-bones for another full-scale election like that.”
Harvey added the number of elections that are scheduled for 2022 would make implementing a new system difficult, and mixing the old system with a new system is not compatible.
According to Harvey, the new systems are paper based, so there is a required manual count for audit purposes once an election is over.
Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough sought clarification on whether the current machines are just old or if there are integrity issues.
“We have not had any issues with accuracy, and we test them extensively before, during and after an election,” Harvey said. “That is required by law.”
The county used around 1,500 voting machines in the November election. Harvey said the extra 400 would make up for the elections office being spread thin.
“We had several locations that had as few as six machines,” she said. “If they had significant issues or breakdowns on election day, we would not have anything to replace them with.”
No decision was made during the meeting, as the item was deferred to give the commissioners more time to go over the information presented.