Texas Counties Embrace Transparency with Ballot Storage Livestreams

To enhance transparency in the electoral process, Texas passed a law in 2021 requiring counties with populations over 100,000 to livestream all areas containing cast ballots. This move aimed to bolster public confidence in the electoral process.

This new practice came about as a result of Senate Bill 1, the Election Integrity Protection Act. This bill passed in a special legislative session in 2021 to address and counter election fraud. It includes various provisions to safeguard the integrity of elections, such as a video surveillance requirement.

In more populous counties like Williamson, complying with the law necessitated the installation of multiple cameras, recording hours of footage. In some cases, smaller counties have also implemented similar livestreams voluntarily to enhance transparency and build voter trust. And all of Texas’s 254 counties should be mandated to do the same.

It is safe to say that this process is helping hold election officials accountable. Just as a police officer is required to wear a body camera, election officials are also mandated to uphold the same level of transparency by being on video as they conduct business.

Yet, critics at the Austin American-Statesman have taken issue with the increased security measures. They cited that in Williamson County, five live streams broadcast the day-to-day activities of election officials, from tabulation rooms to central counting areas. The paper claims this law has imposed additional workloads and technical challenges on county election offices.

Texans should be able to have complete and total trust in their election offices, something that has been lost in counties like Williamson. In 2020 a, still unknown, number of voters were issued the incorrect ballot style, one that contained races for candidates not in their voting district. The lack of transparency and lack of resolution to those errors sowed mistrust between Elections Administrator Chris Davis and the citizens of Williamson. In August of 2023 EA Davis resigned from his position, yet the problems have continued. Recently, 900 ballots were incorrectly programmed, omitting a ballot proposition. So, it should not be a surprise why the citizens would want all of the transparency and oversight they can get.

Williamson County is not alone in its technical errors and mismanagement. Citizens in counties all across Texas have lost faith in their elections. Cameras are a small price to pay. We should do more. Being forthright is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. It is what empowers us, as citizens, to safeguard the accuracy of our votes and to hold our officials accountable.

As we continue to champion openness, it’s vital that all Texans join the cause. Whether by volunteering as poll workers or simply engaging with the electoral process, every step toward forthrightness reinforces the strength of our system. With each act of participation, we take another stride toward ensuring fair and secure elections for all. Here are three ways you can get involved TODAY!