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HPPR Government & Politics

Are Texas Voting Machines Switching People's Votes? Officials Blame 'User Error'

Hart Intercivic E-Slate Voting Machine
Hart Intercivic E-Slate Voting Machine

Why do voters in some of Texas’ largest counties believe voting machines are switching their ballot choices? The company that made the machines and the state’s secretary of state bothpoint to “user error.”As heard on Texas Public Radio

The Texas secretary of state’s office has received fewer than 20 complaints from voters who attempted to vote a straight-ticket ballot. Complainants said their U.S. Senate choices were either de-selected or changed.

Spokesman Sam Taylor said the complaints come from voters using the Hart Intercivic e-Slate voting machine.

RELATED |How To Avoid Problems With Straight-Ticket Voting In Texas

“If voters clicked the button too quickly or started spinning the wheel before the screen had finished rendering, then it could de-select or change one of the choices of one of the candidates on their ballot, depending on how quickly they were spinning the wheel,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the secretary of state’s office received similar voter complaints ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Steve Sockwell with Hart Intercivic said in an email that the e-Slate machine can only record what a voter selects, he said, and there is no way the machine can “flip or switch” votes.

Taylor said the secretary of state’s office investigated the matter, and it agrees with the company. Taylor says the machines are designed so they cannot be manipulated.

“None of the machines are ever connected to the internet. In fact, the computers that program the machines are not connected to the internet. They’re all standalone devices,” Taylor said.

The Hart voting machine is used in 78 Texas counties, which includes Harris, TravisandTarrant counties, but not in Bexar or Dallas counties.  

Early voting endsFriday. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Ryan Poppe can be reached atrpoppe@tpr.orgor on Twitter@RyanPoppe1 

Copyright 2018 Texas Public Radio