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On Wednesday, June 28, 2017, the Hidalgo County Elections Department introduced their new Hart Intercivic Verity Voting Machines during a press conference and open house held in the Commissioners Court chambers.
Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon and her staff hosted the event as a kick-off for their outreach campaign to educate the public on the new machines. Nearly a dozen voting machines lined the chamber walls allowing residents to get familiar with the new hardware.
During the presentation, Ramon explained how her department began researching new voting systems more than six years ago. Her department held various demonstrations where voters, community leaders, and all stakeholders were invited to give their input on the voting machines available.
On Feb. 6, 2017, Hidalgo County Commissioners Court approved a purchase agreement with Hart InterCivic to purchase 1,294 voting machines for a cost of about $5.4 million. This agreement included 854 Verity Touch voting machines and 220 Verity Touch with ADA Access and 220 Verity Controllers; an added feature of the voting system.
"With the Hart Verity Touch machines, we will no longer spend high maintenance fees on the antiquated and obsolete system the county utilized in the past," said Ramon. "This is a saving to all county tax payers."
County Judge Ramon Garcia was the featured speaker at the press conference. On behalf of the Commissioners Court, he expressed his support for the new voting system and the advanced technology voters will have at the polls.
"This is just one step that the county has taken to help improve the voting experience, access to voting and accountability to ensure that your vote counts," said Garcia.
Starting in November, during the Gubernatorial election, Hidalgo County voters will be able to cast their ballot using the new Hart Verity Touch. This voting system is federally and state certified meeting all certification standards.
The Verity Touch voting machine offers ballots in English or Spanish helping Hidalgo County voters cast a ballot in the language of their choice. The Verity Access controller offers large, easy to read buttons for superior accuracy, usability, and durability. It also features Braille labels, beveled edges, and audio ballot support. This allows all voters including those with disabilities to cast their ballots privately and independently.
The Elections Department is spending the summer and fall training elections workers on the set-up and use of these machines and demonstrating the machines to the general public.
Below is a PSA produced by Public Affairs that showcases the new voting machines.