Voting machines

AUTUMN OWENS/WD PHOTO

Parker County Elections Administrator Don Markum shows off the new voting equipment from Hart InterCivic that was approved in the county’s budget.

New voting equipment from Hart InterCivic was approved in the county budget Monday after approval from the Parker County commissioners.

The county will receive 175 ballot marking devices, 50 digital ballot scanners and 50 controllers for a total of $937,921 — seven annual payments at $155,056.15. The current equipment used from Hart InterCivic is about 15 years old.

“I want to thank the commissioners court for approving the budget and the benefit of having these is now we have a paper trail where if something goes wrong, we can go back and do a hand count with the paper trail, so that’s the advantage of having this equipment,” Parker County Elections Administrator Don Markum said. “It’s a little more work for the election worker and for the voter it will just take a little bit longer, but as far as what people want with accountability, it’s a lot better.”

The commissioners approved the bid from Hart InterCivic in June after receiving demonstrations on the new equipment. They also received demonstrations and a bid on new equipment from vendor Election Systems & Software, which came in at $1,001,466.18.

Precinct 1 Commissioner George Conley said he likes Hart.

“I like Hart because they’re from Texas, so if something happens to it, they’re here,” Conley said. “I checked with other counties and customer service is what I hear is the biggest gripe about ES&S. [Markum’s] been working with Hart for years.”

Hart InterCivic Director of Sales Felice Liston said their company’s goal is to be the best, not the biggest.

“Our goal is not to be the biggest election company in the United States, it’s to be the best election company in the United States,” Liston said at the time of the bid approval. “One of the ways we do that is the exceptional customer service and also having partnerships with our customers so that everybody — from our CEO to our receptionist — has a personal relationship with our customers and knows everybody by name, knows what’s going on with that particular county and any issues that may arise and how we can partner with that county to fix those issues. We’ve been your partner for a decade and a half, and we thank you for that partnership.”

At Monday’s meeting, the commissioners also approved a resolution to officially adopt the new equipment.

“We have to do this according to the elections statute anytime we get new equipment, every single entity has to do the same thing, so the cities, the schools, ESDs, everybody will be doing this,” Markum said.

The old equipment will be picked up by Hart once the new machines arrive.

“This was bought with bond money, so you can’t resell it,” Markum said. “They will come pick up the equipment, destroy it and then send me a certificate saying the equipment has been destroyed, so if the government ever comes back on us we can show them we didn’t make any money off of them.”

Markum said the early voting workers have already trained on the new equipment and they are expected to receive all the devices on Oct. 1.

More details on the new voting equipment can be found by visiting hartintercivic.com.

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