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Burnet County tests voting machines for March 5 primary

Burnet County Elections Administrator Doug Ferguson and party representatives

Burnet County Elections Administrator Doug Ferguson tests the county’s election equipment on Jan. 16. Representatives of the county’s Republican and Democratic parties attended the testing to ensure its accuracy. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

The Burnet County Elections Office conducted a public logic and accuracy test of the county’s electronic voting system on Tuesday, Jan. 16, in preparation for the March 5 primary. The system proved to be effective, giving the green light to a progression of election procedures.

Election Administrator Doug Ferguson tested the system at the Burnet County Elections Office, 106 W. Washington St. in Burnet. The state of Texas requires testing to ensure each county’s equipment is accurate. It also serves as an exercise in government transparency as the public is welcome to attend.

“What you’re going to see today is the exact same thing that happens at all of the polling locations, and it’s exactly what happens to the ballots when they come in from the voters,” Ferguson told DailyTrib.com prior to the testing.

He and his team conducted a mock vote in both English and Spanish on 20 different ballots from Burnet County’s 20 voting precincts. They then compared the machine results to the manual count results to ensure they matched. 

The process takes place before every county election. This is Ferguson’s 15th year of facilitating Burnet County elections.

“It would be hard for me to make anybody understand what we go through unless you worked with us for six months,” he said. “But (this testing) is a direct representation of what happens at the polls and what happens with mail ballots.”

With testing completed, military mail-in ballots will be sent out by Friday, Jan. 19, Ferguson said.

Only a handful of people attended the testing, but among them were the Burnet County Republican Party County Judge Karen Seaver and Burnet County Democratic Party County Judge Nancy Hill. 

Karen Seaver and Nancy Hill
Burnet County Republican Party County Judge Karen Seaver and Democratic Party County Judge Nancy Hill at the public testing of the county’s election equipment. Seaver has been attending the testings for the past 17 years and Hill for two years. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Seaver told DailyTrib.com she has been attending the public testings on behalf of the Republican Party for the past 17 years and never seen any “weirdness.”

“I truly can tell you that (the Burnet County Elections Office) has done everything that you’re supposed to do,” she said.

Seaver and Hill watched Ferguson and volunteer election assistant Tommy Gaut go through the three-hour voting procedure to ensure a smooth process.

The coming primary election will be a big one for Burnet County residents. Republican candidates will be vying for their party’s nomination in several local races, including Precinct 3 commissioner, tax-assessor collector, Precinct 2 constable, and district attorney. There are no Democratic challengers, so the Republican nominee will likely take the position in the November general election.

IMPORTANT PRIMARY ELECTION DATES

  • Feb. 5 — last day to register to vote
  • Feb. 20 — first day of early voting
  • Feb. 23 — last day to apply for a ballot by mail
  • March 1 — last day of early voting
  • March 5 — Election Day and the last day for the office to receive completed ballots by mail

dakota@thepicayune.com