Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Local News

November 3, 2008

Electronic voting is a touchy issue

Voting officials must decide what to do when voters report problems casting ballots on touch-screen voting machines.

(Continued)



Some say the machines can go out of calibration if moved or when they are delivered to a polling location, however ES&S; spokesman Ken Fields from Fleishman-Hillard maintains that any miscalibration in a machine “will be evident” and “doesn't come and go.”

Ashley Burton of the Secretary of State's office reported, “We have only received a handful of isolated complaints from voters regarding situations that, to our knowledge, could not be recreated.”

Burton added that each voting system in Texas must be thoroughly tested before every election in which they are to be used. Information regarding these testing procedures are included in an advisory at: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/laws/advisory2008-09.shtml.

As of Thursday afternoon, Burton said they have not received any voting machine reports from Palo Pinto County from early voting or from the March primary election.

However, since early voting began Oct. 20 there have been numerous reports dotting the nation - some similar to the two cases reported to the Index - in which voters said their straight-party Democratic votes turned up as straight-party Republican votes.

Many of these reports are sporadic and not all reports of voting machine irregularities resulted in permanent removal of machines. The reason - administrators could not replicate the situation voters reported.

“Election officials often say they don't have to take a machine out of service if they can't replicate the voter's problem on the machine,” said Kim Zetter, a senior reporter at Wired News. “But flaws in computers can result in erratic symptoms that won't happen with every voter. It may require a specific sequence of events for a problem to manifest, and if officials don't repeat what the voter did exactly, they may not have the same result.”

When asked if the Texas Secretary of State has provisions for a machine with occasional and irregular issues, Burton replied, “If a local election official determines there is a machine error, the machine should be pulled from the area and they should report that to our office. Depending on the nature of the problem, additional testing may be considered.”

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