Texas voters have complained during early voting that a certain type of voting machine, used by most of the state’s counties, is flipping straight-ticket selections to the other party, according to NBC Philadelphia — particularly in the heated Senate race between Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
State officials said the problem lies not with the voting machines but with user error.
The Secretary of State’s office issued an advisory about the problem.
"We have heard from a number of people voting on Hart eSlate machines that when they voted straight ticket, it appeared to them that the machine had changed one or more of their selections to a candidate from a different party. 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, Director of Elections.
This specific machine uses a wheel and an enter button to maneuver the ballot and enter selections. The advisory goes on to say they should not be used simultaneously.
Secretary of State Rolando Pablos’ spokesperson Sam Taylor also attributed the selection changes to voter error, rather than faulty machines: "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.”
The Texas Democratic Party called the issue "a malfunction," said it was causing Democrats to inadvertently vote for Cruz and accused the secretary of state's office of not doing enough to warn voters of potential issues.
Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement that "Texas' Republican government blamed voters and did nothing." He called for a statewide public service announcement to warn voters, training for poll workers on the issue and removal of "all malfunctioning machines."
Taylor said the Secretary of State’s office "has already trained election officials across the state", instructed "election administrators to post additional signage in multiple languages" and told county elections officials to maintain "a detailed, meticulous log of any malfunctioning machines, and remove any machines that are malfunctioning," NBC Philadelphia reported.
NBC 5 spoke to the Tarrant County Elections administrator Heider Garcia. He explained that everyone should make sure to check their ballot on the final screen before casting it.
“I think that is the most important part. Go through the ballot, if you waited in line 20 minute 30 minutes, you might as well take an extra 30 seconds. Make sure that that summary page lists everything that you intend to vote for, and then hit the red cast button to make sure it is recorded,” said Garcia.