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Courthouse move melts voting machines

Hart Voting Sc
Posted at 10:38 PM, Jan 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-18 01:57:38-05

FALLS COUNTY, TX — A tragic oversight means most Falls County voters will cast ballots this year on brand-new voting machines.

What happened to the old ones? They melted, and replacing them doesn't come cheap.

Everyone thought the move from the Falls County Courthouse to a temporary warehouse went well, until elections officials started getting the voting machines ready for this year's elections.

"The scanning part that takes the piece of paper in melted," explained Falls County Judge Jay Elliott.

Just 8 or 9 hours in a moving truck melted the plastic rollers inside scanning machines, making them useless.

"I have no words. I have no words. What do you say to that? Really, what do you say to that?" asked Terri Westmoreland, a voter in Marlin.

Judge Elliott asked about the cost of fixing the machines. The answer? Almost $15,000. Why?

"They've stopped making parts for these machines, and we have been getting our replacement parts from other machines that have been turned in," he said.

So, Judge Elliott and commissioners, with obsolescence staring them in the face, decided to buy 36 new machines. The total cost? About $250,000.

Elliott says he supported the deal because of the importance of the 2020 election.

"I didn't want to be the "hanging chad" county of Texas," he stated.

Falls County will get a big discount on its new machines and won't have to pay for them until the next budget year.

But it leaves voters like Terri Westmoreland with a nagging question.

"And if that machine was that important, why didn't they take better care of it?” she asked.

Westmoreland doesn't want her taxes to go up because somebody let the voting machines melt.

Judge Elliott says he'll do his best to do that, and asks county workers to take better care of the voting machines.