First reports that some voting machines were switching ballot selections from Beto O’Rourke to Sen. Ted Cruz during early voting in Texas raised concerns that the systems had been compromised, but election officials have assured Texans the ballot changes were a result of voters casting a straight-party ticket moving from one screen to the next before the system finishing rendering their choices.
The Hart Intercivic eSlate voting machines used in 82 Texas counties are not malfunctioning, or arbitrarily switching the choices of straight-ballot voters – those who vote a party ticket straight down the ballot, according to a statement from Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, who said fewer than 20 complaints had been lodged by voters.
“The Secretary of State's office has worked diligently to foster an environment of trust and confidence which can unfortunately be eroded by misinformation, false narratives, and bad-faith accusations,” said Pablos. "Texans know better. Each eligible Texas voter heading to the polls during this final week of Early Voting and on Election Day can rest assured that their vote will be cast and counted exactly as they intended.”
For the better part of a year, all eyes have been on Texas where upstart O’Rourke has staged a surprisingly effective grassroots campaign, making inroads against the incumbent Cruz, who, polls show, still holds the lead. And, in the western state, as in other areas of the country, eagle-eyed watch groups and officials have vigilantly monitored election systems for signs of anomalies or influence campaigns that might indicate interference by outside parties.
“My office is working every day to address the myriad issues that can arise during each election and ensure that local election officials take the proper steps to instruct, guide, and assist voters when they head to the polls,” Pablos assured voters after the ballot switches – some of which reportedly changed Cruz to O’Rourke or left the Senate spot blank – were discovered.
The Secretary of State’s office said that voters can “take a test run of a simulated eSlate voting machine with an interactive online application” on VoteTexas.gov.
Pablos also issued guidance to in the 82 Texas counties using Hart Intercivic eSlate voting machines:
- When voting a straight-party ballot, wait at least 3-5 seconds for all choices to be rendered on the eSlate voting machines. Counties in which voters have longer ballots may require additional time to allow the screens to load fully.
- Once all the candidate choices for that particular party have been fully loaded, take your time to slowly review each choice in each race before advancing to the next screen.
- When advancing to the next screen, be sure the screen is fully loaded before scrolling through to the subsequent pages.
- Once you have reached the summary page, carefully review each choice listed to ensure the candidate selected is, in fact, the candidate for whom you wish to cast your vote.
- If you find that one or more of your choices are displayed incorrectly on the summary page, hit the 'PREV' button and choose the candidate for whom you wish to cast your vote.
- If any issues persist, ask for assistance from a poll worker at your polling location, and the poll worker will ensure that the machine is working properly and advise you on the proper steps to take to cast a ballot with only the candidates of your choosing.