Late Election Results: Do We Need a New System?

Revising the election system is something state officials are kicking around in Texas according to newly elected Smith County Judge Becky Dempsey.

Here's an example of why, a new addition to the election code in Texas slowed things down Tuesday night.

In previous elections, the precincts separated the paper ballots at the polls. But now, when the ballots get to the courthouse, every single one has to be separated by hand. That was a record 47,606 this year. Remember we're working with an older model punch card system here in Texas.

There are high-tech electronic advances in some states, like touch screens that allow for quicker election results unlike the midnight and later vote totals that came in here in East Texas.

"I had occasion during the elections to speak with some of the state wide candidates on this very issue," says Becky Dempsey, Smith County Judge elect. "And their suggestion was that the state go to a uniform system which all well and good and I explained to them some of the recommendations from Austin when you get down to the county level it's just another funding issue for the county."

So getting our local elections out of the paper age and into the computer age is going to be expensive. While Dallas and Harris counties may be able to foot the bill, smaller counties like Harrison County or even a mid-size county like Smith would be hard-pressed to make an investment for a more progressive system.

Dempsey added funding isn't the only road block of a state of the art election system, some of the counties aren't networked to support new election technology.

Dana Dixon, reporting