Tested and Ready – Voting Machines get pre-election check

BY BERENICE GARCIA

THE MONITOR STAFF WRITER

The voting machines Hidalgo County voters will use to cast their ballots later this month were on full display for the public.

The Hidalgo County Elections Department invited the public to witness logic and accuracy testing of the machines Wednesday morning ahead of the midterm election.

Logic and accuracy or L& A testing is done on all voting machines before each election and is done to check that everything on the ballot is correct and that the system is tabulating the same number of votes to each candidate as the number of votes entered on each machine.

“The logic and accuracy, it’s for the public as well but we mainly recommend that the candidates do come so they can check that the spelling of their name is correct,” said Melissa Alvarez, division manager for the county elections department. “(We recommend) the authorities of the entity that are having the election to also see that the races are where they’re supposed to be.”

The testing allows them to correct any errors they may find before early voting starts in a few weeks and it also gives candidates the opportunity to see the voting process for themselves.

This is the first year the county has used upgraded voting machines that include a paper ballot.

Late last year, the county upgraded its voting machines into auditable voting machines with paper trails in order to be in compliance with a new state law.

Candidate Ruben Luna, right, looks over information gathered from a voting machine as the machines are tested before upcoming elections at the Hidalgo County Elections Annex on Wednesday in Edinburg.

Photos by Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com

Voting machines are tested before the upcoming elections at the Hidalgo County Elections Annex on Wednesday in Edinburg.

 

With the new machines, voters will have to submit a piece of paper into the machine where they will electronically mark their ballot. When they’ve finished marking the ballot, the piece of paper will come back out of the machine and voters will have to walk that paper over to a scanner.

The county first used these upgraded machines during the March Primary elections.

Since they’ve been implemented, the elections department has received some complaints about the new process from voters.

Those complaints stemmed from concern that election workers could see who they voted for when it came time for the voter to feed their paper ballot into the scanner.

“One of the complaints that we get in our office after they’ve experienced their voting (by) personal appearance is that ‘Oh, the election worker at the scanner gets to see who I vote for,’” Alvarez said.

However, she said voters can simply turn over their paper ballot when they feed it into the scanner so that their voting choices are not visible.

Alvarez also reviewed the process for curbside voting which will be available at all of the county’s polling locations for early voting and Election Day.

They have a system in place dubbed “Buzz and Park” by which voters can ring a bell from their vehicle which notifies election workers inside that there is someone wanting to vote curbside.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 11.

Early voting runs from Oct. 24 through Nov. 4 and Election Day is Nov. 8.

Sarah Garcia, Hidalgo county elections field service specialist, looks over a zero statement readout as voting machines are tested before they will be used in the upcoming elections at the Hidalgo County Elections Annex on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in Edinburg.