Wilbarger County officials look into the security of its elections, in hopes of getting money for new voting machines.

The county’s election security is being audited by AT&T and is free to the county unless problems are found. The report will focus on quite a few different aspects of the election process and is the first step toward receiving grant money, which will be put toward buying new voting machines for the county.

The security assessment is just the first step for Wilbarger County in getting grant money for new voting machines, but it’s not because of any serious security issues with the old system.

“We have had no issues. Thank goodness we have had no issues,” Wilbarger County Clerk Jana Kennon said. “What we call pigtails, it connect machine to machine to machine, we have had to replace some of those but other than that we have not had any problems with our machines.”

Kennon said there isn’t really anything wrong with the machines they have now, but they are starting to get old and with technology changing so fast, its time to look into new ones.

“Our equipment is 14 years old. Computers are not made to last forever, so the county thinks it is getting time to replace our voting machines,” Kennon said. “Once again they are 14 years old, and I don’t want them going down during an election.”

Other Texas counties are eligible for funds for equipment upgrades and the amount of money Wilbarger will receive from this grant, if they pass the security test, will be based on how many other counties take part in it.

Kennon said, “$24.4 million is available out there for 254 counties in the state so that will be divided up, which is considerably less than what the grant was when we started voting machines.”

Every bit helps, and whatever the county gets from the state will mean less that they have to pay out of their own pocket for new voting machines.

Kennon said they expect everything to be in place by the 2019 election with the security assessment and then the grant money for the new voting machines will be handed out after that.

In recent months some states have opted not to go to new electronic voting systems out of concern for security, and this has led to higher prices for systems for some counties, such as Montague.