Thursday, October 21, 2010

Electronic Voting Machines Difficult To Operate, Understand

Poll Watcher harassment, confusion, intimidation and ugliness prevails at precincts

Houston - It's all as clear as the chocolate tones of Buffalo Bayou.

If you're looking to cast a straight Republican ticket in certain areas of Houston, you're going to run into trouble, according to Bob Price of

Here's how it works, at least in certain heavily Democratic precincts such as Acres Homes.

Acres Homes is a 9-square-mile neighborhood in northeast Houston that is a holdover from the old Jim Crow style of housing black families. At one time, it was the largest unincorporated Afro-American community in the southeastern U.S.

It borders the largely white working class suburb of Garden Oaks, bordered by North Shepherd Dr. and Pinemont Road, just north of I-610 Loop. Developers named it Acres Homes because property was sold by the acre and not by lots, as it was in town.

To vote using the electronic machines, you sign in with the election judge, get a “ballot style code,” which determines which ballot you will see on the machine when you vote. You get a ticket from the “Judge Ballot Controller” device and it has your code on it.

That's the code you are supposed to enter on the ballot when you get to the electronic voting booth.

So far, so good.

Nah, not really.

Here's what happens, according to complaints from citizens who tried to vote early in Houston and Dallas using the machines.

Mr. Price wrote in the Texas GOP blog site, “The operator of the JBC is supposed to correctly enter the 'ballot style' code into the JBC and print out your voter authorizatin code which you enter into the e-slate voting machine. If that person enters the code incorrectly, you see an incorrect ballot when you vote.”

He is a retired Air Force offier and official of the Civil Air Patrol, a manufacturer of bass fishing lures and black powder rifle cleaning supplies.

Uh, yeah.

In Harris County two locations reported problems in the Texas Legislative District 148 race between incumbent Democrat Jessica Ferrar and her Republican challenger Fernando Herrera.

“Several people reported not being able to find Fernando Herrera's name on the ballot. It was not clear if they saw Jessica Ferrar's name or if the entire race was missing from their ballot,” according to Mr. Price.

State legislators will be re-drawing the U.S. House of Representatives Congressional boundaries during the coming year.

In some cases, Acres Homes voters have reported finding no results after voting for Republican candidates in certain races. That could be because they got an erroneous ballot style number from the Judge's Booth Controller when the election judge punched in their information as they checked in on the voting rolls.

Harris County voting officials are investigating.

In Dallas, Eddie Bernice Johnson's name was the only name on the ballot for Congressional District 30. Challenger Stephen Broden's name was not on the ballot. Dallas County officials are also investigating.

To make an adjustment, a voter need only call the election official to the booth for assistance.

“Do not UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES let the election staff hit the 'cast ballot' button if the ballot does not reflect your vote accurately. Once the 'cast ballot' button is pushed, you are done. There is nothing that can be done to fix your vote at that point.”

Problem: A couple of Spanish-speaking voters were told how to cast a straight Democratic ticket even though they had requested no assistance.

Poll watchers are causing a lot of controversy at certain locations.

Harris County Democrat County Commissioner El Franco Lee “allegedly yelled at three poll watchers, saying “Why are you here? We have never had poll watchers here! You need to get out of here!”

There was another complaint that Mr. Lee told the election judge to give him a poll watcher's personal information, which caused the individual to “fear for his safety.”

And the band played on.
Keep your eye on that red button!

1 comment:

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