After an election systems demonstration took place over two days in mid-August, the Ellis County Elections office opted to renew their contract with Election Systems and Software to put an upgraded system in place by May 2019.
In August, ES&S and Hart InterCivic presented their voting machines in a live demonstration and showed the capabilities of their products to Ellis County voters. After the presentation, the elections office surveyed the public and poll workers to get their feedback on the performances of both machines.
“The surveys clearly identified that those people were in favor of ES&S systems,” Ellis County Elections administrator Jana Onyon said.
According to a previous story, ES&S systems have been in place with Ellis County since 2005. In addition to public feedback, the elections office assigned an advisory committee to discuss both systems and compare their costs, infrastructure and functionality in recording votes.
“We came to the conclusion, unanimously, to ask the commissioners' court to select ES&S,” Onyon said.
The products included in the ES&S contract include the ExpressVote universal voting system, DS200 precinct scanner and tabulator, and DS4500 scanner and tabulator. Ellis County Commissioners approved of the decision during their regular meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
Onyon said while most of the features on the newer ES&S systems are the same, there are a few upgrades that voters will notice from the upgraded machines.
“For one thing, the person can place a paper ballot into the scanner on election day and during early voting with the new system,” Onyon said.
Additionally, the newer machines have updated marking devices that will verify voter intent without messing up or overloading on accident.
“With the marking devices, we expect less errors on voter’s ballots,” Onyon explained.
An ES&S spokesperson said they’re honored to continue their partnership with Ellis County and provide a fair and accurate election process in the future.
Onyon said the current systems would be used during the upcoming midterm elections and the upgraded systems will be put in place in May 2019. Voter registration for the midterm elections ends on Oct. 9, while early voting goes from Oct. 22 to Nov. 2. The general election will be on Nov. 6.
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX