LUBBOCK, Texas – Lubbock County Commissioners voted 4 to 1 in favor of transitioning to a paper voting-based system. The vote allows the county to take the next steps in the process. Those moves include scheduling the voting machines to be shipped out for printer modifications and requesting further state funding to pay for the changes. The county is set to pay the cost – estimated around $4 million – upfront and State funding may reimburse some of that money later.
Lubbock’s County Election Administrator Roxzine Stinson said the update to the voting process won’t change that much for voters. If anything, it will make things easier for future voting audits and in turn offer voters more transparency and trust in the overall accuracy of the results.
“You’re still going to vote on the machines,” Stinson said. “You’re going to put your ballot paper in there, you’re going to proof your ballot…and it’s going to print your votes out on it. So you get a second chance to look at that, you’re going to go down the end of the line…and that precinct counter is still going to maintain an electronic vote. And that’s what I call a double audit.”
The move is in an effort to comply with the State voting legislation passed back in May 2021 known as Senate Bill 598, which calls for all voting to return to paper ballots. Now that County Commissioners have agreed to move forward, the upgraded machines mean voters will have to turn in the paper ballots in order to officially cast their vote.
“If you walk out without putting that ballot in that precinct counter, your vote doesn’t count,” Stinson said, “because you’ve taken your vote with you. So you’ve got to be sure to stop and put it in the counter before you leave the polling place.”
County officials said these changes won’t be implemented until closer to the end of the year, and therefore not affect the upcoming elections.
“We do not have a timeframe to be able to do all of this and get it back before the March primaries,” Stinson said, “because mail ballots start going out next week. The military have to be out before Saturday. So, we have to start sending out ballots by Saturday. And then any other mail ballot applications that we have on hand will start going out within a week after that. No, we don’t have time to do a quick turnaround on this.”
While the price tag is already in the millions to make the switch back to all paper ballots, the change may cost the county more down the road. The cost of paper and storage space for the votes have not been worked into the budget.