EDINBURG, Texas, Feb. 7, 2017 – After more than two years of research into options, Hidalgo County officials are moving confidently to shed outdated voting equipment and begin a new partnership with Texas-based Hart InterCivic, well-known for strong customer support and election innovations. Verity® Voting features a state-of-the-art touchscreen ballot with secure, transparent and reliable hardware and software. Hidalgo County voters will use the new Verity system in the November 2017 election.
Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramón and her staff enlisted community involvement in determining the best fit for Hidalgo County’s voting future. They held multiple demonstrations of the voting systems under consideration, inviting Commissioners, other elected officials, poll workers, election staff and the public to see and use the equipment and to get answers to their questions. Survey results were overwhelmingly in favor of Verity.
Poll workers expressed a strong preference for the lightweight, compact Verity polling place devices, which are easy to store, transport and set up. They also liked the simplicity of operating the electronic voting terminals from Verity’s unique, centralized Controller – a management console that reduces polling place tasks to a fraction of those required with other direct record electronic (DRE) systems.
Voters found Verity easier to use, commenting on its straightforward touchscreen navigation and instructions. The system includes features that make voting accessible for all voters in a variety of scenarios.
In special demonstrations of administrative functionality, elections staff were 100 percent in favor of Verity’s modern, intuitive software.
County decision-makers were impressed that the newly certified Verity is the only 100 percent direct-recording electronic (DRE) system that has passed rigorous testing at both the state and federal levels. The Texas Secretary of State’s office completed the testing and certification process in December, clearing the way for Hidalgo officials to move ahead with the forward-looking partnership.
Officials were also impressed with the voting safety and verification features of the new system. Printed audit logs and custom reports provide “paper trail” security superior to other electronic voting options.
“As an Elections Department in Hidalgo County, we have been ready to expand what we’d been doing,” Ramón said. “When I looked for a company that could lead us as we step into the future, Hart was that company. I have observed the various election providers in meetings and demos, and Hart is the company that has the strength – not just in equipment, but in knowledge of elections – to take us to the next level of efficiency and service to our voters.”
Ramón added, “I’ve been Elections Administrator for almost nine years. I’m not accustomed to the level of service we’re already receiving from Hart. I was immediately impressed by the degree to which Hart is there for their customers. They don’t shy away from issues or concerns; they stand right beside us.”
Hart President and CEO Phillip Braithwaite said, “We are proud to add Hidalgo County to our growing family of Verity adopters. We know that security and transparency are top concerns with Hidalgo voters, and Verity delivers in every way. We look forward to a long, successful partnership with Hidalgo County.”
Hidalgo County’s 335,985 registered voters put it at 10th largest in the state of Texas, where 112 other counties already partner with Hart for voting systems and support. The ability to learn best practices and processes from other counties already familiar with Hart will be an advantage for Hidalgo County election officials. Their Verity training and installation will coincide with Lubbock County’s timeline. Lubbock County, a Vote Center pioneer in Texas, will be a ready resource as Hidalgo County prepares to switch to these voter-pleasing, centralized polling places.
Braithwaite anticipates more Verity announcements from Texas counties in the coming weeks.