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Activists Diss Voting Machines, Call For Paper Ballots

Travis County eSlate voting machine
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News
eSlate voting machines are used throughout Texas, but one group would like to revert to hand-counted, paper ballots.

Vote Rescue is a non-partisan group urging Travis County to eschew eSlate voting machines in favor of old fashioned, hand-counted, paper ballots. Their main gripe is that the eSlate machines tabulate votes electronically, out of the view of the public eye.

"They are not accurate because the count is done secretly inside of the machine, so there is no way to know if they are [fair]," Vote Rescue's Karen Renick told us last month.

Today, the Vote Rescue people were out in front of Austin City Hall showing how that could be done.

"We're demonstrating to people that this is the way real elections should be held.  And not with corporate owned and controlled computerized voting systems," Vote Rescue co-director Vickie Carp told KUT News.

Vote Rescue's demonstration allowed anyone to cast a paper ballot in a sealed, see-through plastic box. After polls close, the group will break the seal on their mock ballot boxes and hand-count the votes.

Meanwhile, Travis County has begun researching new election equipment to use after 2013. The new system could include some kind of paper component. eSlate voting machines do allow for a paper record of your ballot to be printed out after you vote. Travis County machines do not include that feature.

Mechanical voting machines are nothing new. Here's a promotional video from the 1950s showing how the Automatic Voting Machine Company's product offers "ease and efficiency" that hand balloting can't.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
Ben Philpott is the Managing Editor for KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @BenPhilpottKUT.