Here’s a long article in Wired about problems voting in Texas. It reiterates what I had read about in this earlier post concerning straight ticket voting and includes reports of the machines switching votes from Democratic to Republican candidates. The same DeLeon character mentioned in the comments in that earlier thread makes an appearance in this article:
Martha Herndon voted last Friday at a machine set up at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union hall in Houston in Harris County, Texas.
Herndon said she selected the straight-party Democratic choice on her Hart InterCivic screen but when the ballot came up, all of the Republican candidates were selected, including John McCain in the presidential race. Two races on the ballot were blank. One was for a Senate race (she didn’t remember if it was a U.S. senate or a state senate race); she couldn’t remember the other race.
The Harris County ballot does include a U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent John Cornyn, Democrat Rick Noriega and Libertarian Yvonne Schick. It also includes four state senate races, each of which has a Republican candidate running in it. One of the state senate races doesn’t have a Democratic candidate.
Herndon said she called the poll worker, who re-set the machine for her. But when she selected straight-party Democrat again, the ballot still came up with all Republican candidates selected.
When Herndon pointed out to the poll worker that all of the selections were Republicans, Herndon said the poll worker told her it didn’t matter, as long as she had selected straight-party Democrat her ballot would be cast for Democrats. Herndon asked the poll worker to re-set the machine again. When she selected straight-party Democrat a third time, the ballot came up correctly with Democratic candidates selected and highlighted.
Herndon said she used a machine that was set aside for handicapped voters in wheelchairs. Although she’s not handicapped, a poll worker directed her to that machine.
Harris County spokesman Hector DeLeon was skeptical of Herndon’s account. He said that in every example where voters complain about machines, they complain only to the media or their political representative and not to poll workers at the time the problem occurs. He also said the claims can never be substantiated when election workers check them out. He acknowledged his office did not check out Herndon’s claim. Although Herndon had reported the issue to her poll worker at the time, the poll worker apparently didn’t pass the issue on to election officials.
I really hope that Paul Bettencourt loses this little game he’s playing with Harris County’s Democratic voters. His boss at the radio station (KSEV’s Pan Patrick) has been fanning the flames of fear, particularly this week. Callers are scared and Patrick seems to like it that way. That vote for the republicans or else strategy doesn’t seem to be working on anyone but a few.