Election Nov. 2, 2021

Community members stand in line to vote at the Comal County Senior Center Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021 in New Braunfels.

Comal County commissioners will approve nearly $1.6 million for additional voting equipment and set six early voting locations for the March 1 party primary elections when they meet Thursday.

For the first time, the county’s 123,000-plus registered voters will join thousands in other Texas counties who will see their electronic ballots converted into paper ballots for auditing purposes.

In August, dozens of local voters participated in the county’s open house to “Learn About The Future of Voting in Comal County.” The session, led by representatives from county voting machine manufacturer Hart InterCivic, demonstrated how their electronic votes will be transferred onto paper sheets read by scanners.

The county purchased 275 of Hart’s Verity system machines for $1.42 million in 2019. Up to 200 will be retrofitted with Verity Duo, a hybrid-voting device linking the electronic screens with an additional 75 ballot scanners.

Hart officials said voters appreciate the additional steps that confirm their ballot choices, which give elections officials the ability to reduce instances of voters exiting polling sites and leaving ballots that can’t be scanned and wind up excluded.

Discounts reduced the county’s conversion price from just over $1.7 million to a little more than $1.585 million. Officials have said the county would be reimbursed for 100% of the cost if the conversion happened in time for the 2022 elections.

Thursday’s approval won’t include a solution for housing the bulky additional scanners and store paper ballots that must be kept for at least 22 months after each election.

Commissioners will also approve the county’s Main Elections Center at 396 N. Seguin Ave. as the main location for March 1 early voting, which begins Feb. 14 and ends Feb. 25.

They will also approve five temporary branch early voting locations: Mammen Family Library and the county Annex in Bulverde, the county’s Goodwin Annex in New Braunfels, St. Francis by the Lake Episcopal Church in Canyon Lake and Garden Ridge City Hall.

There were three additional early voting locations for last November’s election, due to requests from political subdivisions, Elections Administrator Cynthia Jaqua said. Following approvals, sample ballots, polling sites and more will be available at the county’s elections website, https://www.co.comal.tx.us/Elections.htm.

Commissioners meet at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Commissioners Courtroom, 100 Main Plaza in New Braunfels. Thursday’s meeting will be live streamed to the public. To access the video and this week’s agenda, visit www.co.comal.tx.us/agenda.htm.

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