Approval of new Hidalgo County voting machines tabled for 30 days
Tension filled the room at Tuesday's Hidalgo County Commissioners meeting as many deliberated over the purchase of new electronic voting machines.
On Tuesday morning, an eager Elections Department was ready to spend nearly $6 million on what they said is much better voting equipment than what's currently being used.
"When they count manually, mistake are made. We have had and this is true, ballots in the trash can and only because the electronic counter of the tabulator and we do such a good job in our process and procedures are we able to recover those ballots,” said Yvonne Ramon, elections administrator.
The multi-million dollar purchase is currently on hold after many voiced their concerns and pleaded for Hidalgo County commissioners to table the approval for another 30 days. Additionally, the purchase would come out of the taxpayer's pocket.
"We're going to make the push to go to paper ballots. I think a lot of people would feel a lot better about or elections if there was a paper trail involved and being able to verify every vote with a paper ballot,” said Abel Prado, vice-president of Cambio Texas.
Ramon reminded commissioners at the meeting that on June 14 of last year the Elections Department and Hart Intercivic signed a resolution with the county to purchase the machines.
"The equipment is here. The formality today is to wrap up that resolution. So it may be something you'd want to talk to your legal counsel about,” County Purchasing Agent Martha Salazar said during the meeting.
During the quarrel, Salazar told commissioners that the machines were already stored in the county and they would need to figure out an agreement regarding the storage fee until the item is approved or not.
"It kind of came up that well we have a problem, we've already ordered the machines. Today was the vote to spend the money,” said Leslie Gower, elections analyst.
The Hidalgo County Elections Department declined to comment after the item was tabled for 30 days and immediately left the courthouse.