The state’s ninth most populous county will be going back to paper ballots beginning in 2018. The Denton Co. Commissioners Court voted to purchase a new voting tabulation system that produces and scans only paper ballots. The new Hart system will print ballots on demand at each election precinct, and voters will be able to scan their ballots when completed.

The county experienced several problems with its voting machines – almost entirely due to human error – during the November election. Many voting machines were incorrectly set in “test mode,” which meant that ballots would not be stored, forcing the use of paper ballots, which at first could not be scanned. Some of those ballots were accidentally counted twice. Some of the machines that were working contained incorrect memory cards, and some of those cards were mislabeled, adding more confusion to the tabulation efforts. Eventually, all ballots were counted three times to produce the final, canvassed results.

None of the election outcomes changed because of the errors, but vote totals shifted significantly. Rep. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) ended up with 1,290 more votes in the canvass than on Election night. As a result of the problems, the county’s elections administrator was asked to retire and another two other employees were dismissed.

An investigation by the Secretary of State concluded that understaffing and inexperience led to the mistakes. County officials requested that investigation.

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