New voting system will cost Lubbock County around $4 million up front
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock county will change its voting process this year to comply with new state regulations involving election integrity. Senate Bill 598 requires all elections in Texas to use an auditable system. That means Lubbock county will have to move to a system using both electronic tools and paper ballots. It’s a switch that will cost the county millions of dollars upfront.
“This is mandated by the state,” County Judge Curtis Parrish said. “This isn’t something that we decided to do. This is something that the state is ordering us to do, and it’s going to cost the citizens of Lubbock about $4 million to do.”
That money will update the county’s voting machines with new equipment to print out ballots when they’re submitted. Lubbock county must foot the bill for the changes in hopes that the state will pay it back.
“We do this as a grant application,” Parrish said.
Commissioners plan to approve that application Monday. After that, the ball will be in the state’s court.
“We have to pay for it upfront,” Parrish said. “Then we have to depend on the state to follow through with their promise to reimburse us the cost.”
Under the new system voters will still fill out their ballots digitally, but now, when they are finished, they will receive a printed version of that ballot. That is what administrators will use to determine winners. That will create both a digital and a paper trail. Which state lawmakers claim will ensure voting integrity.
“If there is a challenge, or if there is a recount now we’re able to go back to both systems,” Parrish said. “Both the hard copy and the electronic copy to make sure that our votes are verified.”
That’s an issue Judge Parrish says Lubbock hasn’t had to deal with. He says the county has gone above and beyond to ensure all votes are counted and counted accurately. Errors, Judge Parrish says, are not tolerated.
“Zero. That’s my standard of error,” Parrish said. “At the end of the day you know when you go to the polls, and you vote for your candidate that vote is counted accurately fairly.”
Parrish says Lubbock has always maintained a gold standard when it comes to elections, and a new process won’t change that.
“Lubbock’s election system is accurate, it’s fair and it works,” Parrish said. “I also believe this. That this new system that we will be putting in place will also be accurate and fair and will work.”
Once it is approved, the switch from the current system to the new one will start immediately. It must be completed before the November elections later this year.
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