Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Local News

October 24, 2008

Concerns raised over electronic voting

Two say machines tried changing their straight-party Democratic votes to straight Republican choices.

By Libby Cluett

lcluett@mineralwellsindex.com

At least two Palo Pinto County residents say they experienced early voting problems when the touch-screen voting machines they used kept switching their straight-party vote from Democratic to Republican.

“When I cast an early vote [Wednesday] at Palo Pinto County Courthouse, my vote was switched from Democrat to Republican right in front of my face - twice!” reported Lona Jones, a Precinct 1 county resident.

Intending to vote straight party on the Democratic ticket, Jones said she was surprised Wednesday when the electronic voting machine “on the left as you face the machines” in the courthouse basement asked her if she wanted to cast her vote for a straight Republican ticket.

Thinking she had pushed the wrong button the first time the machine “came up Republican,” Jones said she repeated her intended straight-party vote.

“The second time I was sure to just touch the Democratic button,” she said, further reporting that the machine responded to her selection, “‘Do you want to change your Republican straight ticket vote to a Democratic vote?’ I pressed, ‘Yes,’ then it came back up and it was a total Republican ticket again.”

One election judge helped her cancel her vote and switch her to the machine on the right side, where she was able to cast her vote as she intended.

“One of the ladies told me, ‘These machines don’t work well’ and, ‘These machines give us problems.’ I told her I not only didn’t want to use that machine, [indicating the problematic first machine], I didn’t want anyone using that machine.”

When Jones returned home, she made calls – first to County Clerk Bobbie Smith who was out of the office conducting early voting in Mineral Wells – then to other elected officials.

Later Wednesday, Jones looked online to see if this problem showed up elsewhere. She found an Internet article from the Charleston Gazette in Charleston, W.Va., citing voting irregularities similar to her experience with the same type of machine used in Palo Pinto County – an Election Systems & Software’s iVotronic.

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