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Election vendor hits Texas counties with surcharge for software behind voter registration systems

Gabriel C. Pérez

A California-based election services company is charging several large Texas counties tens of thousands of dollars in additional fees, sending election officials scrambling to pay the surcharges to preserve a crucial system that manages their voter registration.

The state's primary runoff elections are next month.

Multiple Texas counties contract with VOTEC to provide software to maintain their voter registration system, but the company is now asking those jurisdictions to pay more. The San Diego firm did not return requests for comment from The Associated Press on Thursday.

The nonprofit news outlet Votebeat reported that VOTEC sent a message to the counties last month saying the “one-time” surcharge was because some counties were behind in payments and that additional problems with the company's payroll and health insurance provider were causing financial pressure.

Daniel Ramos, executive director of the Office of Management and Budget in Harris County, which includes Houston and is the state's most populous, said the county received new charges totaling $120,000. Ramos said the county would pay it soon because it relies heavily on the software.

Collin County, which includes Dallas' suburbs, said it was charged $42,341.

In a statement, the Texas Secretary of State's office said it was talking with the affected counties and advising them on what to do.

According to Votebeat, the firm is one of only three authorized to provide voter registration software in Texas and its software is used by 32 of the state's counties. It also provides the software in Illinois and Nevada, but Votebeat said the firm has not issued surcharges in those states.

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