Wednesday, July 17, 2019

New voting machines. A first look.

I was invited to attend a press conference with Harris County Clerk Diane Trautman during the International Association of Government Officials conference. We were allowed to visit with the vendors of new voting machines, all including a paper trail. Here are the highlights of the press conference:


  • Our current machines are over 20 years old
  • New machines are targeted for the 2021 elections
  • It will cost roughly $74 Million to procure about 5000 machines (Very rough estimate)
  • The goal is to make it simple to vote and trustworthy
  • Harris County received a $250,000 grant to educate the county on voting centers
  • Voting centers have been implemented, voting hours have been extended, early voting locations are now voting centers, its easier to vote in Harris County.


Old Voting Machine Technology
Remember that at one point or another a ballot is scanned and tallied by a machine. 20 years ago the paper ballots (shad ballots) were tallied by a machine but the ballots could be manually recounted if needed. I didn't hear anyone complaining about those machine being manipulated to skew the vote.

We then converted to a Hart machine with the strange dial. That machine allowed the voter to make their selections and  the machine would tally the votes. There is no paper trail.


Dominion Voting Machine
New Voting Machine Technology
The new machines will eventually tally the vote just like they did 20 years ago but there will be a paper trail. A touch screen will allow a voter to easily make their selections. Then a ballot is printed for the voter to review. That paper ballot is then scanned, tallied, and securely stored.

But, there are options. The voter can actually simply print a ballot, color in the dots with a sharpie, then have the machine tally the vote and store the ballot. Or a configuration (one I did not like) would print the ballot and display it behind a glass screen for review before being tallied and stored.

I found that most of the screens were easy to use, allowing the voter to increase the font size, color, background, and more. They were easy to use. The Hart machines were small. I wasn't impressed. I found the machines by Dominion Voting to be easy to use. Election Systems and Software was BIG. 

Trautman has a schedule to bring a new system to the voters in 2021 and will be looking for input from the Harris County community.


This was a rather large voting machine that could show the entire ballot.

This is their version of a paper ballot that would be inserted into a tally machine.

This is the tally machine provided by Dominion Voting. The paper ballot would be scanned, tallied, and stored below.

A blank ballot could be printed and the voter could use a marker to color in the circles, then inert the ballot into the tally machine.

Ballot being inserted into the tally machine.

This is the tally machine for Hart's voting machines.


1 comment:

stan merriman said...

Please be aware that the major research coming out of IT Security Research centers at dozens of respected universities confirm that all of these machines, including the latest here are highly hackable/tamperable to change the intended result of the voter. ES&S, one the these shown runs on Widows 7 and they have not been informing existing buyers of this; support for this ends in 2020. These research centers advancing IT technology are telling election authorities and voters that the only current and foreseeable secure voting system is the paper ballot filled out by the voter; the scanners used to tabulate are hackable but more transparent than the machines for auditing and forensic testing, but with the original ballot as the ballot of record, you have a reliable recounting method. ES&S has a history of lying about security to congressional committees. Beware Diane and Houston voters. it's slick and very smarmy.