Hey, Texans! If You're Voting Straight Ticket On A Machine, Check Your Ballot.

Oct 25, 2018

UPDATE Oct. 27: In a statement, Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos said that the eSlate voting machines are not malfunctioning. He said Texans using straight-ticket voting need to make sure they wait for screens to load.

“It is important for all voters in the 82 Texas counties utilizing the Hart Intercivic eSlate to understand that the voting machines are not malfunctioning, nor are they arbitrarily ‘switching’ the choices of voters who cast a straight-party ballot,” he said.

Pablos said voters voting a straight-party ballot should "wait at least three to five seconds for all choices to be rendered on the eSlate voting machines."

Our original post continues:

A voting rights group is warning Texans to double check their ballots if they are voting straight ticket, because some voters are reporting problems with a commonly used voting machine in the state.  

The Texas Civil Rights Project said it has heard about issues with the Hart eSlate machines, which are used in Travis County and many other counties.

“We’ve been hearing reports of voters who go to the booths, they try to vote straight ticket and then the next screen they see it appears that their vote has been selected for a candidate of the opposing party,” said James Slattery, a senior staff attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project.

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According to Slattery, these reports have come in from across the state through Election Protection, a hotline for voters experiencing issues at the polls.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said she hasn't heard reports of this happening in Travis County and her office has "not found one voter that this has happened to."

She said it's possible for voters to change their votes accidentally if they are too "quick triggered" and don't let screens load before hitting buttons. The Texas Secretary of State's election advisory also flagged user error as a potential problem Tuesday.

"This can be caused by the voter taking keyboard actions before a page has fully appeared on the eSlate, thereby de-selecting the pre-filled selection of that party’s candidate," said Keith Ingram, the director of elections.

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Cordell Hosea, who lives in a suburb of Houston, said he tried voting straight ticket for Democrats on Tuesday.

“I was getting ready to press the red button to cast my ballot and something told me to glance over to the screen," he said, "and when I looked over at the screen I saw that Ted Cruz was noted as my senator."

Hosea said he told poll workers about what happened and they had him restart the process. He said it worked the second time. However, he said, he’s worried this problem could have happened to other voters without them noticing.

“I am very concerned,” Hosea said. “Thousands of people have already voted, and they may have not viewed the screen.”

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Slattery said, thankfully, this is an easy problem “to identify and fix.” He said voters should always double check all their votes were cast the way they intended before hitting the big red button that says “CAST BALLOT.” He said these voting machines are old and finicky and, unfortunately, voters need to be extra vigilant.

“It appears they date back to the turn of the century,” he said. “It really underscores how antiquated and backwards some of the Texas voting technology is.”