County discusses replacing aging voting equipment

By Lindsey Vaculin

General Manager


Milam County held a special meeting to discuss its aging elections equipment on June 6.

According to Milam County Clerk Barbara Vansa, the equipment the county currently uses is 12 years old.

“We had a couple of issues a few elections ago,” Vansa said.  “The machines in Rockdale had some issues. We have had little minor issues. All of our votes have been counted.”

County commissioners, school district representatives, city representatives and elections judges heard a presentation from Hart Intercivic, the current provider of the county’s election machines, on its new model.

Vansa said the new Hart system is a simpler way of voting that is easier for voters and election judges.

The new units feature a tablet and touch-screen voting. They will streamline the process. They are also lighter and easier to store and move around.

The Texas Secretary of State may soon decertify the equipment the county currently uses, but there is no date set for that.

Texas began requiring counties to buy electronic voting machines in 2005. That is when Milam County purchased the current equipment it uses for voting.

The price tag on the new voting machines is between $400,000 and $500,000 for the counties portion.

Commissioner Donald Shuffield asked those in attendance if that was a good expenditure of the taxpayers money.

County Judge David Barkemeyer said it isn’t if we want to do it, but when it gets done because the state will decommission the current voting machines in the next two years or so. 

“I think it is better to improve the new technology now,” Barkemeyer said. “We will have to do it either way.”

Cameron City Manager Rhett Parker and Rockdale City Secretary Terry Blanchard voiced concerns over the cost to the cities and school districts.

The cities and school districts will be responsible for their own voting equipment. The county will still count the votes and will purchase the software. 

Vansa said that replacing the voting machines is her recommendation at this time. 

“Jodi (Morgan) and Nancy (Tucker) have seen other options,” Vansa said. “This machine was more convenient. We have been with Hart for a long time and have never had any issues with them. Their service is outstanding.”

Vansa said there have been more issues over the recent years and she feels it is time to replace them before there are bigger issues.

No vote was taken on the issue. Commissioners are expected to vote on replacing the machines at a future court meeting. The cities and school districts will also decide what they want to do in the coming months.