Texans began early voting on October 22 and already there are reports of problems at the polls.
According to Texas news station ABC13, voters of both parties are complaining about having their ballots mis-marked by voting machines.
What’s even more surprising is that this problem isn’t new. Secretary of State Rolando Pablos has known about the issue for years and has done nothing to fix the problem. He’s calling it operator error.
Houston voter Mickey Blake reported the problem as she tried to vote a straight Democrat ticket. On the last screen, she noticed a vote that should have been for Beto O’Rourke was marked for Ted Cruz.
The rest of her straight Democrat votes were correct except for the senate race: “So she backed up and did it again. And again,” according to ABC13.
She reported the same results after the third time trying to correct her ballot.
Republicans had a different result: “Voters who select straight-party Republican unselect Sen. Cruz and wind up voting for no one. Either way, officials say it’s a rare issue that happens, but not to everyone,” according to ABC13.
In August, The Texas Tribune published an op-ed by Democrat Celia Israel who said Texans have known about the problems with voting technology and have been calling for improvements to the outdated system for years.
“In many of our counties, it’s like we are driving a 15-year-old vehicle down the highway that was meant to last no more than 10 years; it will leave us stranded if we don’t act quickly. We need a plan to find funding to replace voting machines and infrastructure that is more than a decade old. We cannot allow our counties to continue using antiquated voting systems in a state full of technological talent and innovation. We cannot afford for our voter rolls to be compromised or our machines to fail,” said Israel.
Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office, explained to PBS on Friday that the error is from the voters and not the machines. “There have been reported issues with Hart eSlate voting machines, which are used in around 30 percent of counties statewide and feature a wheel for selecting candidates and buttons to move from screen to screen. But it says they are caused by voters themselves and often occur when they complete and submit ballots too quickly.”
“The Hart eSlate machines are not malfunctioning, the problems being reported are a result of user error — usually voters hitting a button or using the selection wheel before the screen is finished rendering,” said Taylor.
Texans face a tenuously tight senate race between the incumbent Ted Cruz and his Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke.
While Cruz leads in the polls, he only leads by single digits.
A problem at the Texas polling stations could mean a flip in that race and the senate could lose a Republican seat.
Voters in Texas are urged to check and recheck their ballots before casting them in light of the problems that have arisen there.
That sounds like a pretty good idea — because it would be devastating to lose the Texas senate seat to the Democrats due to technological errors.
Perhaps paper ballots might be a good backup until Texas works the kinks out of its electronic systems. A paper trail might be a good safeguard against technology that isn’t foolproof yet.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.