Hidalgo County voting machine replacement delayed

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During a Hidalgo County Commissioners meeting earlier this month, commissioners tabled the approval to purchase new voting machines.

During a Hidalgo County Commissioners meeting earlier this month, commissioners tabled the approval to purchase new voting machines. However, it was mentioned that these machines are already in storage in the Rio Grande Valley. 

“The equipment is here. The formality today is to wrap up that resolution. That may be something you’re going to want to talk to your legal counsel about,” said Martha Salazar, Hidalgo County purchasing agent.

At the meeting, Hidalgo County purchasing agent Martha Salazar told commissioners that more than 1,000 new Hart Intercivic Verity voting machines were already in the valley and in storage on Hart’s tab.

“Yes, yes as per the resolution the dates were there as to when they were going to manufacture. It is a process beyond imagination. You can start to try to imagine 11 trucks full of equipment with crates and crates and crates. It’s not an easy task,” said Yvonne Ramon, Hidalgo County elections administrator.

The decision to table the approval was made after residents against electronic ballots convinced commissioners to wait for a period of 30 days.

“You know the reputation that the county has, a lot of people have mistrust in the system. If we can do something to restore that integrity and to restore trust in our election process. We’d might have a higher voter turnout, more people civilly engaged,” said Donna resident Abel Prado.

Ramon says the resolution stated the machines would be delivered to the county between Dec.31 and Jan. 6. 

“Well what happened there was I didn’t know there were no commissioner court meetings in December and although the resolution was signed and although the commitment was made, we worked with legal,” Ramon said. 

More than 800 existing voting machines have reached their life span of more than 10 years. The current machines are falling apart and replacement parts are no longer manufactured, according to Ramon. The new voting machines remain stored inside a McAllen warehouse awaiting approval and will cost the county a one-time flat rate fee of $1,500. 

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