Comal County wants to recount Tuesday’s ballots by hand to resolve problems with both the initial election results from electronic voting machines and the revised tallies those machines produced Wednesday. The revised numbers didn’t change the outcome of any race. Confidence in them, though, plummeted this week because they indicate 649 ballots were cast in the contest for Place 3 on the Schertz City Council, despite only 540 voters being registered in the part of the town that’s in Comal County, officials said. County Judge Sherman Krause conferred with the machine vendor, Election Systems & Software, and the secretary of state’s office. The balloting included three at-large council races in Schertz, a Comal Independent School District bond election and a contested seat on the Cibolo Municipal Authority board. An audit of all 179 voting machines Wednesday showed 16,101 votes were cast countywide, not the 13,686 reported Tuesday night. The Schertz numbers didn’t shrink, they grew.
… The situation highlights a drawback of the so-called direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines: the absence of a paper trail that allows voters to verify their ballot preferences and serve as a backup to the digital results.
“There are audit logs on these machines that can provide useful information, but it won’t tell you the voter’s intent,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group. “What we’d like to see is a voting system that provides a hard copy record to every voter at the time of the vote.”
While the use of DREs is growing, she said the country’s most widely used style — which she prefers — involves a paper ballot that’s filled out by the voter and then scanned and retained.
“In the event that equipment breaks down on election day, voters can still vote and the ballots can be tabulated later,” Smith said. “If the DRE breaks down, you don’t have a way to vote.”