Tuesday, October 26, 2004

TX: County Responds to Voting Machine Problems

By Lee Nichols, the Austin Chronicle, October 22, 2004


Travis County election officials have responded to complaints that voters casting straight-party Democratic ballots are discovering, when performing a final check of their ballots, that their votes for president have been changed from Kerry/Edwards to Bush/Cheney. The officials say that, after trying and failing to replicate the problem on its eSlate voting machines, they have concluded the vote changes are due to voter error rather than mechanical failure.

Gail Fisher, manager of the county's Elections Division, theorizes that after selecting their straight party vote, some voters are going to the next page on the electronic ballot and pressing "enter," perhaps thinking they are pressing "cast ballot" or "next page." Since the Bush/Cheney ticket is the first thing on the page, it is highlighted when the page comes up – and thus, pressing "enter" at that moment causes the Kerry/Edwards vote to be changed to Bush/Cheney.

Fisher stressed very strongly that voters should not rush, but carefully and thoroughly examine their ballots on the final review page before pressing "cast ballot."

Fisher said the county has received "less than a dozen" complaints from the more than 70,000 voters that had cast ballots by Friday afternoon.

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