Texans: Don’t let reports of flipped votes keep you from voting early

One week into early voting and election officials are still logging complaints from some Texans who believe voting machines flipped their votes.

But election officials say the problem is not the Harte eSlate machines used in Tarrant County and 81 other Texas counties. Voters casting straight party tickets simply need to slow down and be careful.

“It is important for all voters ... 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,” according to a statement from Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos.

“Moreover, the Secretary of State’s office has observed a disturbing trend where misinformation is being spread regarding the scale and the impact of these reported instances. This has the potential consequence of raising unnecessary alarm about the integrity of Texas’ voting systems and discouraging eligible Texas voters from casting their ballots.”

Several complaints have been reported in the past few days in Tarrant County, said Heider Garcia, the Tarrant County election administrator.

He said voters need to slow down and take their time.

This problem occurs, just as it did during the 2016 president election, when voters cast a straight ticket vote and then don’t wait long enough for all the votes to populate on the ballot.

“There’s no issue with the machines,” Garcia said. “Yes, they are old and they aren’t the friendliest to use, but they won’t flip votes.”

Early voting runs through Friday.

Election complaints

Election officials say they’ve been notified less than 20 times that a voter believes his or her vote was changed on these machines.

But they want to reassure Texans that they have checked the machines and are confident there’s no problem.

Officials with Hart InterCivic stress that election officials across Texas conducted “public logic and accuracy” tests to make sure the machines are properly programmed and collecting votes correctly.

Tarrant County response

Leaders for the Tarrant County’s GOP and Democratic parties said they are telling voters to double check their ballots before casting them since a few voter machine issues have been reported.

When in doubt, a voter should call over an election worker who can cancel the ballot and let the voter cast a new one.

“The machine is not exactly user friendly, especially for someone who has never used it before,” said Darl Easton, chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party.

“We are asking everybody, before you hit that ‘cast your ballot’ button, please check your selection,” said Deborah Peoples, Tarrant County’s Democratic Party chairwoman.

Peoples and Easton said poll workers and volunteers typically deliver this message not only in English, but also to Spanish-speaking and Vietnamese-speaking voters.

Easton said another issue that has turned up is that voters have gotten incorrect ballots, but once they showed voting officials, the ballots were canceled and they were able to vote.

“Check the whole ballot,” Easton stressed.

Voting tips

Wait at least 3-5 seconds after casting a straight-party ballot to make sure all the choices flow through the electronic ballot.

Take time to review the summary screen at the end to ensure your vote was properly recorded.

Make sure the screen fully loads before scrolling to the next page.

Call an election worker for help if there are any problems.

Anyone with any election question should call the Tarrant County Elections Center at 817-831-8683.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

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