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Texas Legislators May Look at Paper Backups for Voting

The Texas Legislature may be looking into ways of providing paper backups to electronic voting machines after claims of machine errors in the 2016 election cycle.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott raised the idea when he tweeted, “That’s a great idea & we are considering it as an election reform measure. Election integrity is essential,” in response to a question from a voter asking for proof of how he voted,.

Texas-based voting watchdog, True the Vote, told Breitbart Texas that one of the most common complaints received was with regard to voters demanding a paper ballot in lieu of a machine or, at the very least, a receipt that denotes their recorded selections. Texas law does not currently allow voters to select the means in which they cast a ballot at a polling place.

The Texas Tribune reported that Texas lawmakers have attempted, over the past several sessions, to require paper trails on electronic voting machines. The most common proposal would have machines create a paper record of the vote which could be verified by the voter and put into a locked box for use during a potential recount of votes. However, prohibitive costs, estimated at between $40 million and $50 million, have kept the idea on the back burners of legislative priorities.

State Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) told the Texas Tribune she intends to re-introduce a bill she had put forward during the 2007 session when she was in the state’s lower chamber.

“I agree with Governor Abbott’s call for election reform,” the senator said Tuesday in a statement emailed to the Texas Tribune. “I have personally spoken with his office about re-introducing my legislation from 2007 to strengthen ballot integrity by requiring a paper record be printed of a person’s vote on an electronic voting machine. Texans have the right to inspect and verify that their vote was accurately recorded.”

A spokesperson for the Texas Secretary of State said they would have to wait for direction from the legislature before making any changes. “We will follow the will of the Legislature and the Governor on any changes related to voting machine requirements in Texas,” Pierce said in an emailed statement to the Tribune.

Texans have been turning out in record numbers across the state and many voters have expressed concern about the accuracy of electronic voting machines. Breitbart reported Texas voters were complaining that voting machines were changing straight party votes for Trump/Pence to Democrats Clinton/Kane. Those reports were largely chalked up to operator error by voters, officials stated. However, one Texas County, Chambers, temporarily dumped their electronic machines to go entirely to paper ballots after software errors were found to affect straight-ticket voters, Breitbart Texas reported.

In the meantime, officials, including Governor Abbott have urged voters to check their votes prior to electronically casting the ballot. The systems allow the voter to review their selections prior to actually casting the ballot.

The governor tweeted:

The 85th Texas Legislature will convene in January 2017 and is expected to take up this matter and other issues relating to election integrity. Reforms involving the state photo voter identification law are to be expected as well.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.

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