Yes, I know your uncle in East Texas swears the goldurn voting machine switched his choice.
But it’s tougher to get a voting machine to work right than to log on to Facebook and gripe.
About 1 in 30 voters makes a mistake using machines, according to a 2008 university study. And we are not getting any better at it.
Most Texas counties use the eSlate, a primitive machine that works like a Fisher-Price toy typewriter. You have to turn a wheel, line up your selections, push the right button and then carefully not push another button or nudge the wheel until you cast your vote.
Fifteen years ago, it was an improvement over old lever-operated machines.
Now, in an age of touchscreen phones and selections by click of a wireless mouse, it feels like driving a stick-shift ’98 Buick.
Voters in Arlington, Colleyville and Southlake blamed eSlates for “switching” their votes from Republican Donald J. Trump to Democrat Hillary Clinton on Monday, making national news along with a voter in the Panhandle city of Canyon.
It happens a lot when you’re casting a straight-ticket party vote.
Randall County election administrator Shannon Lackey
“It happens a lot when you’re casting a straight-ticket party vote,” said Randall County election administrator Shannon Lackey, more candid than Tarrant County officials as she returned calls to discuss the Canyon voter’s complaint.
“People push the button again, or the wheel slips, and they get somebody they didn’t want,” she said: “Thank goodness there’s a ‘summary’ page to check before you cast the ballot. That’s why it’s there.”
In 2008, Texas Democrats sued unsuccessfully claiming the eSlate’s nonintuitive design was costing them straight-ticket votes. Party officials told Democrats to make a choice in every race and avoid the straight ticket.
It shouldn’t be this difficult to vote.
Tarrant County Republican Party Chairman Tim O’Hare of Southlake
“It does seem to be a fairly complicated machine,” said Tarrant County Republican Chairman Tim O’Hare of Southlake, dismissing concerns over any mechanical problem or software glitch.
“It shouldn’t be this difficult to vote.”
Lackey said the eSlate isn’t smart enough to change votes.
“It only records what you put in,” she said: “It’s like a DVD player — if you accidentally put in Ghostbusters, it can’t play Terms of Endearment.”
Officials from the vendor, Austin-based Hart InterCivic, did not return a call Tuesday.
Democrats have other complaints this election. The Tarrant County party issued and then withdrew a news release accusing Republican poll watchers of “voter intimidation,” mainly over the signing of affidavits for voters who could not get a photo ID.
“What we’re hearing is that voters are being asked questions that have been thrown out as improper by the [federal] court, or told they need their registration card when they don’t,” said Jane Hamilton, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey.
“Those are just the ones who call. Nine times out of 10, somebody who’s turned away just won’t go back.”
Neither side is very happy so far. And it isn’t even Election Day yet.
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