Election Day is today, and new voting equipment from HART InterCivic may cause results to be finalized later than usual, as officials say they want to be cautious.
The equipment has been tested multiple times and is working properly, said Brazos County Elections Administrator Trudy Hancock, but she said officials will be particularly careful since it is the first time using the equipment on a large scale. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to
7 p.m. Early voting results will still be released right after 7 p.m.
“With everything being new, just expect that it will take us a little bit longer,” Hancock said. “We’re just being cautious to make sure we are doing everything properly, since it is a new system.”
The machines used for 15 years prior to this election had a wheel for voters to turn when they made their selections, but the new equipment uses a touch screen. Hancock said there have not been reports of voters who had challenges using the machines during early voting, but there will be extra staff at the polls today — and at the next several elections — in case anyone needs assistance.
“We’ve had really good feedback from the community, with people saying the system is very easy to understand and very easy to work,” Hancock said.
The machines have changed, but Hancock said voters should expect everything else to remain the same.
Prior to this election, the equipment has been used at several public demonstrations. In April, Bryan High School students were the first to use the machines when they voted for their class officers. Hancock said that there is still a machine set up for demonstration in the Brazos County Elections Administration Office lobby at 300 E. William J. Bryan Parkway for anyone who wants to try it before they vote.
In December, the Brazos County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 to approve the new equipment, instead of switching vendors to Election Systems and Software — a change that would have cost taxpayers more than $412,000 in the next five years. The county has used HART machines since 2003, but thought about switching to ES&S, which would have given voters a receipt to scan into another machine. HART is strictly an electronic system.