A new Fort Bend County associate district judge would be funded in the county budget for 2020, but the two Republican county commissioners still believe the move is a waste of taxpayer money.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Vincent Morales said that there is no justification for the county to bring in an additional judge. “It doesn’t matter who the sitting judge is, but this is just not right in the eye of the taxpayer,” he said.

Morales referenced an opinion from the Texas Office of Court Administration, which did a report on the Fort Bend County courts and said that a new associate judge is not needed.

Last week, Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers said that a new district judge would cost the county $1 million that would not be in the current budget.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage said that the money for the new judge is in the 2020 budget that will be approved later this month.

He also pushed back on those who say there is no need for a new judge, saying that the backlog of cases is affecting those who have a right to a speedy trial.

“Tell that to the ones who are waiting for justice,” Prestage said. “Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Meanwhile, commissioners approved a new voting machine system for the county. The ExpressVote machines, made by Election Systems and Software, were selected unanimously and could be ready to use by mid-2020, according to elections administrator John Oldham.

Oldham said that the ExpressVote and the Hart Verify system, the other voting machine considered, both would have served the county’s voters well with both machines providing a touchscreen interface and a printed-out paper ballot.

But Oldham also said that by selecting the ExpressVote machines, the county would be able to save more taxpayer money in the long run. “It is going to be significantly cheaper and is going to save lots of money,” Oldham said.

The deal to purchase the new machines will not be finalized until the county can find enough warehouse space to store them, Oldham said. As soon as a place can be found, a contract can be made and the machines can be made ready to ship, he said.

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