Soon some Texas residents will be voting electronically.
Starting with the November general election, residents of Henderson County won't find paper ballots in polling booths. Instead they will be using a machine with a rotary interface – which is more accurate and durable than touch screens – in order to vote, according to the Athens Daily Review. Since the March 2006 primary these machines, which allow voters to spin the rotary until they find their chosen politician, have been in use, but voters could choose to use paper ballots. Now, this is changing.
Election workers will stand by in case voters feel they need assistance with the new machines, Denise Hernandez, the county elections administrator, told the publication.
"They can come in any time between now and the start of early voting, and we'll have a machine up where they can learn about it, and actually vote on it, and see that the process is easy," she said.
The county will purchase 20 or 25 new machines in order to ensure there are enough for all 27 voting precincts. Then, on November 4, the 100 machines will be distributed across the county. The county hopes to receive a credit of around $15,000 on some of its existing machines, County Judge Richard Sanders told the Athens Daily Review.
Voting in one Canadian town completely digital
Removing paper and switching to document storage solutions for any sort of daily operations – such as courthouse failings or board meetings – is a great way for counties to save money. One Canadian town even implemented a completely online ballot system that residents can use to place their votes remotely, according to the Toronto Sun.
"It's just got to be the wave of the future," Nicole Wellsbury, deputy clerk of the Town of Ajax, said of the decision to go paperless, according to the publication. "We've had quite a turnout problem here in the past, so we're trying to make our elections so convenient that there's no excuse for people not to vote. They can do it from their tablet, smartphone, from the office, from the GO train, 24 hours a day over an eight-day period."
The $220,000 typical cost of an election in Ajax is sure to be reduced following the elimination of over 60,000 paper ballots and 10,000 printed voter lists from the process, the news source noted. Reasons for the switch to paperless voting include increased accessibility, enhanced convenience and lessening the town's impact on the environment. The Toronto City Council voted in February to allow internet and telephone voting.
Now Henderson is set to experience similar benefits. Many voters in the county have already used the rotary machines – about 60 percent – leading Sanders to express hope that the change won't be to difficult to overcome, according to the Athens Daily Review.
In addition, the rotary machines can't be hacked, which means that the paperless switch will occur without a blow to accuracy. Some paper votes will have to be cast. Since Henderson hasn't gone to the extremes that Ajax has, absentee ballots will still be a necessity. The county has 860 mail-in ballots ready for election day.
Like Henderson County, the state of Texas in general has been switching many processes in favor of paperless automation. In June, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced that its Public Hunt Drawing System would become online only, according to the TPWD website. The system began operating in July.
In addition, last year the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles launched a paperless vehicle title system – the first of its kind in the United states, a CBS affiliate reported.
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