breaking news

Austin man accused of several attacks found guilty of sexual assault

Travis County ditches plan to craft its own voting system


Highlights

County officials hope to have new voting system in place for 2020 elections.

New system will probably cost about $14 million and last between 10 and 20 years, elections officials say.

Initial estimates showed that STAR-Vote, the county-designed system, would have cost $10M to $12M.

The Travis County clerk’s office is abandoning a nearly decade-long effort to craft its own voting system, opting instead to pick one of the existing voting machine systems from a private company, officials announced Tuesday.

“We’re going to proceed with getting a new voting system,” County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir told the Commissioners Court during its Tuesday meeting. “It’s not going to be STAR-Vote, but it’s going to be the next best thing.”

Beginning in 2009, the county convened a study group that designed a new voting software, called STAR-Vote, to improve security and include a verifiable paper trail while staying inexpensive.

The group envisioned a system that allows voters to use tablets that would print out a paper ballot, which would stay at the voting station and would be used to verify that vote, and a receipt for the voter to take home.

TECH HISTORY: Travis County tries electronic voting machines for the first time

The county had also hoped to shift away from proprietary technology sold by private companies to open-source, meaning computer code free for anyone to use and modify.

But after the county sent out a request for proposals, on Sept. 26 the court, at the request of the purchasing agent, rejected all 12 proposals, saying none proposed a complete system that was cost-effective for the county.

DeBeauvoir said there are new voting systems on the market that will still meet higher standards for security and include paper trails. It will probably cost about $14 million and will last between 10 and 20 years, DeBeauvoir said.

The county plans to issue an RFP by the end of October. Officials hope to have the new system in place before the 2020 general election.

Initial estimates showed that STAR-Vote would have cost $10 million to $12 million, but over time the cost would have been lower because of cost-sharing among counties and the lack of licensing fees.

The current system, the Hart InterCivic eSlate, was bought in 2001 and cost between $6 million and $8 million, DeBeauvoir said.

She said she found that private companies aren’t yet interested in the open-source model the county seeks because it’s not as lucrative. Unlike the current system, an open-source system wouldn’t require continual renewal of expensive software licensing agreements.

“Open-source was considered too low a revenue model for private-sector companies to build,” she said.

So for Travis County, at least for now, STAR-Vote is still a faraway dream.

“STAR-Vote is not dead. It’s not gone away. … My hope is somebody else now will pick it up and carry it on,” DeBeauvoir said, clarifying that she meant another county in the U.S.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Former DPS director Thomas Davis to be remembered in Austin on Friday
Former DPS director Thomas Davis to be remembered in Austin on Friday

Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Thomas Davis Jr., whose 43-year career with the agency included eight challenging years as its director, died last week from lung cancer. He was 77. Davis, who died Sept. 14, will be remembered by family, friends and colleagues at a funeral Friday at Shoreline Church, 15201 Burnet Road in Austin. The service is...
James Brown's daughter, Venisha Brown, dead at 53
James Brown's daughter, Venisha Brown, dead at 53

Venisha Brown, one of the daughters of the late Godfather of Soul James Brown and the late Yvonne Fair, formerly of the Chantels, died Wednesday. She was 53. >> Read more trending news  Venisha Brown died at Augusta University Health Medical Center in Augusta due to complications from pneumonia, according to a release from the ...
Where in Austin to watch the first Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz debate
Where in Austin to watch the first Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz debate

It’s finally happening, but where are you going to watch it?  Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, dueling in a competitive Senate race, have agreed to a series of three hour-long debates between September and October. The first debate is set for Friday at Southern Methodist University in...
INCREDIBLE NEWS: Travis County sheriff deputizes ‘Hulk’ actor Lou Ferrigno
INCREDIBLE NEWS: Travis County sheriff deputizes ‘Hulk’ actor Lou Ferrigno

In an move guaranteed to turn any super hero fan green with envy, Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez got a chance to deputize the Hulk on Thursday. Lou Ferrigno, the star of TV’s “The Incredible Hulk,” stopped by “to say hello and offer encouragement and thanks” with Hernandez and other personnel, the sheriff&rsquo...
Ex-boyfriend stabs woman’s new boyfriend after hiding in closet
Ex-boyfriend stabs woman’s new boyfriend after hiding in closet

A 24-year-old Texas man is in critical condition Thursday after he was stabbed by his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, who was hiding in a closet at her apartment, WOAI reported. >> Read more trending news  Anthony Escobedo, 24, was taken to a San Antonio hospital with a collapsed lung, the television station reported. The incident...
More Stories