Williamson County’s Board of Elections will consider returning to paper ballots for the 2024 General Election.

In June, Texas Secretary of State Jane Nelson issued an advisory to address new requirements for numbering ballots and protecting voter privacy.

Texas Scorecard reported that the recent advisory primarily affects counties using ES&S voting equipment due to concerns about ballots with numbers printed by software connected to poll books.

Discussing the advisory at last week’s Commissioners Court meeting, Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said, “The right to ballot secrecy is an intricate part of our voting system, which we cannot – let me say this – we cannot allow that to be compromised.”

During the meeting, County Elections Administrator Brigette Escobedo explained that based on updated balloting requirements for the November election, her recommendation to the County Election Board (scheduled to meet in a few weeks) will be to use “preprinted, serial-numbered ballots.”

Judge Gravell acknowledged Escobedo’s leadership and stated, “There are a lot of different ways we could choose to go with this. This is the right way.”

Escobedo said the new ballots with preprinted numbers on the back would cost approximately three cents each. Obtaining one ballot for each registered voter in Williamson County would cost just under $13,000.

By switching to preprinted, sequentially numbered paper ballots, counties can still perform audits while maintaining voter privacy.

Election integrity was ranked as the second most important priority by the Republican Party of Texas for the 2025 legislative session, only surpassed by border security.

Republicans want assurance that election integrity measures include photo ID, updated voter rolls, precinct-level counting, and anti-counterfeiting paper.

The GOP also wants to ensure that only United States citizens can participate in elections. The concern comes from policies adopted by other states that allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

According to the Heritage Foundation’s Election Integrity Scorecard, Texas ranks 12th compared to other states and has a score of 75. Regarding security, Texas can improve its implementation of voter ID, its management of absentee ballots, and procedures for election litigation.

Debra McClure

Debra McClure is a contract writer for Texas Scorecard. She is also a former teacher.