Rep. White’s ballot paper trail bill advances to elections committee

Rep. James White is crafting a bill to require all new voting machines have a paper ballot...
Rep. James White is crafting a bill to require all new voting machines have a paper ballot paper trail.
Updated: Mar. 10, 2021 at 1:01 PM CST
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AUSTIN, Texas (KTRE) - A bill requiring electronic voting machines to produce a traceable paper ballot has moved forward to its committee assignment.

Filed by Rep. James White (R-Woodville) in February, H.B. 1708 advanced to the Elections committee on Wednesday.

If passed as-is, White’s bill would require the disclosure of ownership interest with voting devices. Now, the legislator has filed a measure to require a paper record after voting on electronic machines.

“There are times when we have very hotly-contested elections, and they come out very close results,” White said. “That’s not a problem. Instead of just hitting a button and having some program just spit out the same data, we want to be able to have, throughout the state, paper ballots; a paper trail.”

House Bill 1708 authored by District 19 State House Representative James White (R) calls for a voter-verifiable paper record from electronic voting machines.

“When our laws allow for candidates to call for recounts, there’s something to recount,” White said. “There’s a paper ballot trail where our county clerks and other stakeholders can do a recount.”

White says in his district, which includes Jasper, Newton, Polk and Tyler counties, there’s a similar setup in place.

“It’s not that I have a list of my candidates that I’ve chosen in my pocket when I leave as a copy ballot,” White said. “But the point is, when I’m ready to feed that ballot into a vote counter, it’s a physical paper ballot that I have also checked and verified that these are actually my election choses for that particular election.”

If passed, starting September 1, 2021, electronic voting machines that do not produce a verifiable paper record cannot be purchased. Beginning September 1, 2023, electronic voting machines cannot be used in an election, unless it produces a paper record.

“We envision an opportunity for state and federal authorities to provide funding and resource capacity over a period of time, so the proper machine can be secured by these local jurisdictions and not be a fiscal burden on our local officials,” White said.

If the bill passes both House and Senate chambers with a two-thirds vote.

It would take effect immediately, in accordance with the Texas Constitution. In the bill passes both chambers with a simple majority vote. It will take effect September 1.

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