Tarrant County receives new touchscreen voting machines

Tarrant County voters will cast ballots on new machines for this year’s November 5 constitutional amendment election.

Tarrant County unveiled its newest $11 million investment for future elections.

Elections Administrator Heider Garcia says the new voting machines will still use a touch screen, but they also include a paper ballot.

“I think commissioners court in Tarrant County was very sensitive to what people were saying: ‘We want to feel safer. We want a paper trail,’” Garcia said. “The meat and potatoes of the whole change is that we now have a paper trail for every single voter in Tarrant County.”

Once a voter makes his or her selection, the paper ballot prints. Voters then insert it into a scanner.

“Having that paper trail gives the instruments for people to say, ‘I’m not sure I trust you. Let’s check. Let’s count the papers,’” Garcia explained.

The machines will replace outdated electronic ones put in place 15 years ago.

Garcia hopes the upgrade coincides with another plan. He applied with the state to allow Tarrant County to use countywide voter centers for elections. That means voters would be allowed to vote at any voting location, regardless of which precinct it’s in.

“This actually makes it a little easier for people because they don’t have to know where to go,” he said. “Anywhere they see a vote here sign, they can vote.”

The Texas secretary of state will make a decision on that application next month.

Tarrant County says it will make the machines available for public demonstrations in the coming weeks.

Early voting starts October 21.