In the wake of the November midterm elections, counties throughout the U.S. are taking stock of their election processes while advocates and legislators debate what should change to make elections more secure and accessible the next time around. The piecemeal method of voting in the U.S. means that regulations and methods of voting vary dramatically from state to state, and sometimes even within states. In Texas, that piecemeal nature is even more on display: Some counties use electronic voting machines, some counties use paper ballots and some use both. One voting reform that’s frequently been invoked amid anxieties about vote recounts or voting systems being hacked is mandating a paper trail.
Numerous municipalities, including some in Texas, have decided to adopt a hybrid system under which an electronic voting machine creates a paper trail or record of the voter’s ballot to be used in the event of a recount.
A house bill filed in the Texas legislature by Texas Rep. Ramon Romero Jr., a Democrat, would mandate that all voting machines in Texas create a paper audit trail. The proposed legislation, House Bill 22, would change the state’s election code to require counties that use electronic voting machines to have a paper audit trail.
Some Texas counties already have systems that create a paper trail, but many more produce no physical record at all. As Texas legislators prepare to return to Austin for the 86th legislative session, they’ll be asked: Should they?