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Jefferson County officials approve purchase of new voting machines in hopes of protecting integrity of future elections

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said the county has one of the oldest voting systems in Texas, so this is a welcomed upgrade.

BEAUMONT, Texas — By the time the November election rolls around Jefferson County voters may notice some changes at your local polling locations.

Jefferson County commissioners voted to approve the purchase of the new auditable voting machines.

County officials see this as a significant step in protecting the integrity of future elections.

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said the county has one of the oldest voting systems in Texas, so this is a welcomed upgrade.

Branick said under new state voting laws, auditable voting machines are now required.

They have until 2026 to comply, but county leaders plan to purchase them sooner.

"If we purchase them this year and have them in place by the November election of 2022, then we're reimbursed for the full cost of those machines," Branick said.

He said Jefferson County leaders will choose from two brands: Hart or ES&S.

County leaders will hold workshops to make their decision.

"Probably will not take action to purchase those machines until after the county clerk's been able to complete the may elections,” Branick said. “And hopefully put those in place in June and allow our staff to be trained up on them and be ready for November."

Interim County Clerk Laurie Leister said the new machines are a needed upgrade.

Calling the old system antiquated and breaks down how the new machines will work:

"You will still go to a computerized screen and vote, and then a piece of paper will be printed where you can look at it and confirm that that is who you wanted to vote for and then you will go over to a scanner and the scanner will scan your ballot," Leister said.

Leister said after your vote is counted, they will keep your paper ballot for 22 months as required by the new state election law.

She said the paper trail will help ensure the integrity of future elections.

"The voter will be able to see who they voted for and that's really the purpose,” Leister said. “There won't be any question about if the machine was...whatever, fixed or anything else anybody ever worried about."

Leister said the county is taking quotes from Hart and ES&S right now and plans on bringing in the new voting machines sometime in June or July.

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