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Commissioners Court approves new county voting system

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The Collin County Commissioners Court has approved purchase of a new voting system to replace the county's 15-year-old voting machines.

The court unanimously approved the $10 million contract Election Systems and Software's ExpressVote, a ballot-marking system that prints out a paper ballot for each voter to verify before a ballot is scanned and tabulated during an election.

The system was previewed by local residents, precinct chairs and the League of Women Voters at the Collin County Elections Department before the Jan. 28 vote, and drew an endorsement from the LWV.

ExpressVote relieves some voters' concerns about the ability to verify how they cast their ballots, and keeps a paper backup of the ballot for recounts. The system is also highly secure on a self-contained encrypted system; meaning, none of the systems tabulators are on the Internet. It's also portable, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant, and meets federal and state certifications.

In short, the new system works like this:

  • After checking in, voters are given an activation card to insert into the ballot-marking machine that pulls up the correct ballot for each voter;
  • Voters make their selections on the touch screen and, when they are finished, the machine prints out each voter's record which can then be verified for accuracy; then,
  • Voters take their paper record to a scanner, where their vote actually cast and tabulated.

The new system will be up and running for the Nov. 5, 2019, general election, according to Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet.

The November 2018 general election drew more than 357,000 Collin County voters that either mailed in their ballots or voted in person at 68 voting centers across the county. The turnout was slightly more than 61-percent of the 581,684 registered voters at that time.