Waco, TX (FOX 44) — The McLennan County Election Administration’s Office is holding classes through Thursday this week for community members to try its new voting system.
It is moving from strictly electronic voting machines to a new system that involves a paper ballot to manually fill out.
McLennan County election administrator Jared Goldsmith says this is a required change by state government for all Texas counties to have a paper ballot system by 2026.
“We have purchased a new voting system here in the county and it meets those requirements. I think everybody’s going to find it really easy to use. It’s going to be a very small learning curve when you do go vote on it,” said Goldsmith.
Goldsmith says they’ve used an electronic voting system for 17 years.
Instead of the prior voter machines where you key in your votes, you’ll now check in and receive a printed paper ballot.
“So you sit down at a booth, you’re going to take a pen, you’re going to mark your choices and you’re going to take the ballot into a scanner. It’s going to scan it and read it for you,” said Goldsmith.
If you make an error on the ballot, the scanner will return it to be corrected.
“You get three chances to correct that ballot. If they mess up, if they want to cast it as is, they don’t count it that way as well,” said Goldsmith. “The voter has the choice as to how they’re going to cast their ballot.”
Incorrect ballots will be counted as undervotes and overvotes.
This means no candidate would receive a vote in said category.
To prevent multiple votes used on the same paper, serial numbers are listed on each ballot so the scanner will recognize if the vote has been submitted.
If the scanner doesn’t work, election workers will unlock a manual slot on the machine to physically submit your ballot for the workers to scan at a later time and count your vote.
Demonstrations will be held through Thursday with Tuesday’s class in East Waco taking place at the Waco multipurpose center at Paul Quinn campus.
“The process of voting in Texas for African-American communities, for young people and for older people is being affected by some of the laws that are coming out of the state legislature,” said Dr. Peaches Henry, Waco-McLennan county NAACP president.
Dr. Henry will be at the venue along with additional staff from 4 – 6 P.M. to familiarize people with the new voting system and to answer questions.
Concerns Dr. Henry mentioned was ballot privacy for anyone voting curbside and if the new voting equipment will be able to be checked out by organizations to train and show others how to vote.
This new voting system will be used starting May 6 for city and school elections.
Demonstrations on Wednesday will be held at the West Waco Library from 3 – 7 P.M.
On Thursday, demonstrations will be at Hewitt City Hall from 3 – 7 P.M.