Travis County to debut new voting system in 2019

Sami Sparber

By November 2019, voters in Travis County will cast ballots using a new voting system.

The ExpressVote system, which combines aspects of both electronic and paper ballot voting, cost the county $8.16 million to purchase and took more than a decade to procure, county clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said. 

“It took 15 years to get to a point where we could have the best of both worlds,” DeBeauvoir said. “The ExpressVote system couples the accuracy and speed of electronic voting with the security of a paper trail.”

With ExpressVote, voters will make their selections on a touch-screen voting machine. When they are finished, the machine prints a paper ballot. Voters are then instructed to make sure their selections are correct before bringing the paper vote record to the ballot box, where it will be scanned and cast.

“It is our mission at Travis County to provide safe and secure elections, without outside interference,” said Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt in a statement. “With the new security features and added paper trail, Travis County voters can rest assured knowing their votes were properly counted.”

Voters in Travis County have been asking for a voting system with a voter-verified paper trail for years, DeBeauvoir said. Although voting machines are safe from outside interference because they are not connected to the internet, DeBeauvoir said allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election have given voters a heightened concern for the security of their votes.

“Voters are going to have a new job now that they’re in this new voting world,” DeBeauvoir said. “It’s up to them to really look at their paper ballots and confirm that (the ballots) reflect their choices they made at the voting booth, because that piece of paper is what’s going to be counted when it’s time to tally up the votes.”

In addition to making the voting process more secure and efficient, the ExpressVote system is more accessible to all voters, particularly those with disabilities, DeBeauvoir said. 

Maya Patel, vice president of TX Votes, a nonpartisan student organization focused on improving civic engagement, said she looks forward to using an updated system.

“With all things in life, things have to be updated periodically, and this applies to elections, too,” chemistry senior Patel said. “I’m interested to see if these changes really are more efficient and help the lines move faster during the busier periods.”