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No denying the voting machines in Collin County — commissioners approve contract renewal

Christopher Connelly
/
KERA News
Collin County residents who've spoken out at commissioner court have raised concerns about voting machines. But the commissioners voted Monday to keep using them.

Collin County will continue using the same voting machines for another year despite objections from several members of the local Republican party.

The commissioners voted to approve the consent agenda for the meeting, including the renewal of the county’s contract with the company that provides its election machines until June 30, 2024. Multiple residents implored the commissioners to vote against the contract renewal during public comments, citing false claims about 2020 election fraud.

This isn’t the first time people have shared concerns about the county’s voting machines and election integrity. Mark Brugge was one of the citizens who spoke during public comments. He said Collin County residents have raised concerns about election integrity for a couple of years. He also said the Collin County Republican Party’s chair told him 80% of the party’s precinct chairs share that worry.

“The large percentage wants to get rid of them and a lot of them don't trust them,” Berge said.

Abraham George, the Collin County Republican Party chair, told KERA before the 2022 election that while there may have been election fraud in other parts of Texas, there was no fraud in Collin County.

“We won every race,” George said.

That includes county commissioners Susan Fletcher and Darrel Hale, who ran as Republicans in 2020 and won with more than half of the county’s votes. The other county commissioners, Duncan Webb and Cheryl Webb, are also Republican. So is County Judge Chris Hill.

None of the commissioners officially commented on renewing the contract or the public comments during the meeting. But Commissioner Susan Fletcher asked the county administrator, Bill Bilyeu, to give an update on the recount of the May 6 election results.

Bilyeu said it took almost seven hours to recount the votes from 1,100 ballots by hand for one race.

“The outcome of the ballot, comparing it to what was run through the machines, was exactly the same,” he said.

Public commenters at the meeting – and at past commissioners’ court sessions – said that voting machines aren’t as reliable or accurate as hand counting. Debbie Lindstrom, a Collin County Republican precinct chair, said that the machines are also illegal.

“They not certified properly, neither at the federal or the state level,” Lindstrom said.

The Texas Secretary of State’s Office concluded otherwise. The 2020 election audit report made a point to include the dates the Texas secretary of state certified the election machines ahead of the vote in Collin County. The report also praised the county’s election systems, calling it “the model of how to run elections in Texas.”

But that didn’t reassure people with concerns. Barbara Isaacs, who’s spoken at commissioners’ court about election integrity off and on for years, still said the machines aren’t secure.

“I feel that you are disenfranchising the citizens that do not feel safe to vote on these machines,” Isaacs said to the commissioners.

Got a tip? Email Caroline Love at clove@kera.org.

Caroline Love is a Report For Americacorps member for KERA News.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday. Thank you.

Caroline Love covers Collin County for KERA and is a member of the Report for America corps. Previously, Caroline covered daily news at Houston Public Media. She has a master's degree from Northwestern University with an emphasis on investigative social justice journalism. During grad school, she reported three feature stories for KERA. She also has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Texas Christian University and interned with KERA's Think in 2019.