Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Texas Voters: Don't Vote Straight Ticket

Some voting rights advocates were already warning voters to avoid straight-ticket voting, and now reports are filtering in that voters in Texas are experiencing problems with voting machines flipping their votes:

A number of voters in several Texas counties have been complaining that voting machines they used to cast early votes flipped their votes from Democratic choices to Republican ones.

Voters have reported that when they tried to vote a straight-party Democratic ticket, the machine flipped their choices to Republican candidates instead. In some cases, voters reported a problem only with the presidential race; in other cases voters reported the entire ballot being marked Republican by the machine.

The counties where the problems were reported use different kinds of voting machines from three of the top voting machine companies -- Election Systems & Software, Diebold Election Systems (now Premier Election Solutions) and Hart InterCivic.

A Hart InterCivic spokesman said that at least one of the scenarios that a voter described isn't possible on the company's machines. A spokesman for ES&S said very few voters had complained and as far as he knew poll workers were never able to replicate the situation they described. The same ES&S machines are at the center of stories in West Virginia and Tennessee where voters also reported the machines flipping their votes, though the scenario in those states was slightly different since voters there weren't trying to vote a straight-party ticket when the problem occurred.

Voting a straight-party ballot or ticket is an option offered in 15 states whereby a voter can choose to vote straight-party Democrat or Republican and the ballot will automatically mark votes for candidates from that party on the ballot.

Because of the reports of problems, many election integrity groups are urging voters to forego the option.

The Texas Democratic Party has already been forced to respond to misleading information sent out to some Democratic voters that voters who opt to straight-ticket vote must also indicate their Presidential preference on the electronic ballot, even though doing so would result in no selection for the Presidential race. So be warned Texas voters...things are haywire out there. If you vote straight ticket, be sure to double check your ballot and talk to an election official if you have any problems. If they can't or won't help you, be sure to contact your local county elections office, or your local Democratic party. In Tarrant County you can report problems to the Tarrant County Democrats at 817-335-8683, or to the Tarrant County Elections Office at 817-831-8683. More information is also available here at the Tarrant County Democrats website. If you'd like us to know about any problems you've experienced, shoot us an email at our address at the top of the right-hand column. 

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