New voting machines tested

EDINBURG — The county’s new voting machines were tested Monday before being doled out for their first official election.

Hidalgo County elections staff tested about 450 Hart Verity machines for accuracy and logic Monday morning. Commissioners purchased more than 850 machines at the beginning of the year, but about half will be used during the upcoming November election.

“The law says we are to test a percentage of — a sampling — of the machines, but we don’t (just test a few),” Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon said. “Every single machine that is caged and locked and sent to a polling location has been tested.”

Candidates, city secretaries and members of the public took turns testing the machines at the election annex Monday.

“The testing proofs the ballot and proves that the system is properly adding votes to each candidate in the same quantity as the votes that were manually entered,” elections analyst Hilda Salinas said. “The testing also confirms that each candidate appears in the proper precinct, including split precincts, and does not appear in precincts outside the candidate’s jurisdiction.”

The new equipment, which cost the county about $5.4 million, has already been put to use at local schools.

“We have been testing them on student council elections,” Ramon said. “And we’ve welcomed them because it’s given us an opportunity to test the (machines).”

After each machine is tested, staff members place them in locked cages, where they will remain until the start of early voting.

There will be at least six municipalities on the ballot Nov. 7, as well as proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution.

“Oct. 10 is a very important date because it’s the last day that a person can register to vote or the last day a person can make changes,” Ramon reiterated.