TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC)- The Taylor County Elections office has implemented a new paper auditing system that will be in use for the upcoming November election. Freda Ragan, County Elections Administrator, said the voting process will relatively be the same as it has been since switching to the digital system in 2019. However, the addition of a paper ballot will add some steps when casting your ballot.

“We loved our electronic system. We felt it was very secure. But that paper ballot will give an added level of security and confidence to the voters.” said Ragan.

Ballots will still be cast via a digital touch screen and secure access code. The new system, however, changes where your vote is recorded. Previously your vote was stored in the casting machine as well as the election officials control unit. Now, a paper ballot will be printed once your vote is cast. That paper ballot must be taken to the scanning machine for your vote to be recorded and counted.

“That ballot paper is their actual ballot. And so once they print that, they must take it to the scanner,” said Ragan.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, worry not. Ragan told KTAB/KRBC that they are anticipating some confusion on voting day. On Tuesday, September 20, there will be a public open house at the Taylor County Plaza to demonstrate the process before voting day at 400 Oak Street.

“We will have extra poll workers on hand at every location.” said Ragan.

To ensure the process goes as smooth as possible, pollsters will be standing by to assist with any questions or issues voters may experience.

This change was brought down by the state legislature who in 2021 mandated that all Texas counties must convert to the paper audit system by 2026. Federal and State funds have been made available to cover the cost of equipment upgrades.

“Because of those funds, we were 100 percent reimbursed. So Taylor county chose not to wait,” said Ragan.

These changes are in direct response to election security concerns raised during the last presidential election. Ragan said the paper ballots will be stored in a locked and monitored location so they may be used for election audit if needed. The physical copy is in addition to the digital backup that will also be recorded.

While equipment costs have been fully covered by the state, Ragan said the paper ballots are around $250 per ream. With the entire county voting each election, that cost will add up over time. Ragan said this change will likely mean an increase in spending on the election operations budget long term. Though she says the confidence and trust of the voter is paramount to the process.

“We’re here to conduct the election and to make sure that every single voter that’s registered and is eligible is able to cast their ballot freely and without intimidation,” said Ragan.

Early voting begins October 24 and ends November 4. Check here for a list of times and voting locations.