Voting Systems

The vast majority of Texans will cast their ballots on electronic voting machines – many of which are part of a hybrid voting system that produces a paper record that voters can review and verify before officially casting their ballot.

Voting systems in Texas are never connected to the internet, and cannot even have the capability of connecting to the internet in order to be certified for use in Texas elections.

Many counties utilize e-Pollbooks for checking in registered voters when they enter the polling place. These devices are connected to the internet so that they can communicate with one another and ensure that no registered voter can vote more than once in any given election. The official list of registered voters in each county is backed up and secured through layers of cybersecurity to ensure malicious cyber actors are not able to access or alter voter information.

For more information, please visit the Texas Secretary of State’s Election Security Update on how local and state officials work year-round to ensure your vote is safe and secure.

Voting Methods

Texas uses a few different methods of voting. Texans cast their votes by paper ballot (which is counted either by hand or by using an optical scan system) or by using a Direct Recording Electronic system (DRE).

When using a paper ballot, voters will either hand-mark their paper ballot or use an electronic ballot marking device that allows them to make their selections electronically and then prints a paper ballot containing those selections. The paper ballot will then be hand-counted or will be counted using an optical scan system. When using a DRE, the voter will make their selections electronically on the system and the system will record those selections electronically on the system.

DREs and electronic ballot marking devices also allow for the connection of an audio/headphone attachment, simple touch devices, or a sip and puff tube that enables the blind, elderly, individuals with physical disabilities, and non-reading Texans to vote independently and in private.

The type of system on which you vote is decided by the political subdivision (county, city, school district, etc.) in which you live. Depending on where you live, you may also use a different system for early voting than on Election Day. Here’s a brief summary regarding the different voting methods:

  • Hand-marked paper ballots are still used as the primary way of voting in a number of Texas counties. Voters mark their ballot by hand with an indelible marker (a marker that cannot be erased) or pen and place their finished ballot in a ballot box. Local election officials then count the votes by hand.
  • Ballot marking devices are electronic devices that allow the voters to make their selections electronically on the device, and print a ballot that contains those selections. The printed ballot is then placed into a ballot box for hand counting or into an optical scan system for automatic counting.
  • Optical scan voting systems enable voters to mark their choices either on pre-printed ballots by connecting “arrows” or filling in “bubbles” next to the candidates’ names, or on electronic ballot marking devices by making their selections electronically on the device and printing a ballot containing those selections from that device. The paper ballot is then inserted into an electronic ballot counter, which then counts the marked “bubbles” or “arrows” on each ballot and automatically computes the totals for each candidate and/or issue.
  • DREs (Direct Recording Electronic systems) enable voters to record their choices electronically directly into the machine. There are several types of DREs (some have a dial while others use a touch screen), but essentially they all enable voters to move back and forth between screens (ballot pages) to select the candidates and/or issues for whom they wish to vote. Once a voter has made his or her choices, the DRE provides a summary screen that presents those choices and gives the voter the ability to go back and make any changes before pressing the “Vote” or “Cast Ballot” button. One of the benefits of a DRE system is that it prevents “over-voting”; that is, it stops the voter from selecting two candidates or options in a race where only one is allowed. As well, a DRE gives the voter an opportunity to correct “under-voting,” or failing to select any candidate or option in a race.

Each polling place in Texas must offer at least one accessible voting system (either a DRE or an electronic ballot marking device), with the limited exception of sparsely populated jurisdictions conducting non-federal elections.

In Texas, you’ll vote on one of these systems.

The State of Texas has certified voting systems from two different vendors: Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Hart InterCivic. Regardless of the system you’re using, know this: When voting in the Lone Star State, you count. Texas makes sure. Following are the voting systems certified for use in Texas. (You can click on the name of each voting system for more information about that system.)

From Election Systems & Software:

From Hart InterCivic:

Step-by-step instructions for using: