Voting machine testing underway with Texas SB 1 changes

Some people were being paid to vote at the Williamson County Annex in Georgetown. They were paid to vote not once, but often.

"So, voting is fun," said Nani Covar.

By the end of the day, Covar and the others there voted more than 160 times. That certainly would be illegal during an official election day, but this voting was being done to protect the vote.

"And it's worth it, you want to make sure when the public comes, and they are going to cast their vote, the machine is going to do what they're vote says," said Covar.

State law mandates counties to test the computer program that operates their electronic voting machines.

"This is us proving that the machines are counting correctly," said Williamson Co Elections Administrator Chris Davis.

Davis organized a public showing of what’s called Logic and Accuracy testing. It involves using stacks of worksheet ballots marked with pre-selected choices.

The candidates who are selected on paper, are entered into 50 different voting display screens. Then cross-checked with the machines that count the votes. All that information is put through another analysis on Wednesday.

"And we are actually going to prove up that the software that’s installed on that matches the original software that’s been certified by both the Federal government and the State government, it’s called Hash Code Validation," said Davis.

That extra level of review is mandated under SB-1. Republican state lawmakers pushed through that voter reform legislation in 2021, which also included new restrictions on mail-in ballots. Democrats left the state in a failed attempt to stop it.

The tabulation system will be tested again before election day. The worksheet ballots that are used in this testing process will be locked away in sealed boxes. When the real Mail-In Ballots start coming in, they are going to be locked away in a storage room. 

That storage room will have a live video feed coming out of it, so the public can watch it 24/7. The requirement is also part of SB1. The top 40 counties in Texas are required to provide the live feed. 

The video camera in Williamson County will be turned on Oct. 29.

Travis County, which also has a video feed, did its logic and accuracy test a few weeks ago. But for some, that’s still not enough.

"I'm not at ease. I'm not convinced," said Rocky Stone.

Stone was one of a handful of people who came Tuesday to watch the testing process. He believes electronic voting can be compromised.

"I've never observed anything that would say it’s not OK, but I'm going to be skeptical until I feel comfortable," said Stone.

Davis was quick to point out that none of the voting machines are connected to the internet.

"They don't have anything, they don't have the capability to be connected to the internet. This test I think goes a long disproving folks who say, I just don’t trust the machines," said Davis.