Ballot, polling woes aggravate voters
San Antonio Express News by John Tedesco November 8, 2006
Oskar and Beverly Medina braved rush-hour traffic during the Tuesday election to meet at their usual polling station in Precinct 3120 and cast their ballots.
But a sign outside Wetmore Elementary on Thousand Oaks Drive surprised them. The couple and other voters were told that everyone from their precinct had to go to 705 Trafalgar Road.
"We were asking each other, 'Where's Trafalgar Road?'" Oskar Medina, 49, recalled on Wednesday. "Nobody knew, so they left."
It turned out the address was to a school more than eight miles away near San Antonio International Airport. Medina tracked it down while his wife and other residents drove home frustrated, according to a complaint he faxed Wednesday to County Commissioner Lyle Larson.
Delays and mix-ups plagued some voters in Bexar County, who complained that polling locations were moved; that incorrect candidates appeared on their ballots; that some electronic ballot machines failed to work; and that paper ballots were unavailable.
"It was a fiasco," said Terri Jetter of Kirby, who said a half-dozen exasperated voters left a polling site at Hopkins Elementary because of glitches with the voting machines Tuesday morning.
At Bowden Elementary near downtown, some voters claimed their ballots erroneously showed the race for Congressional District 23. One of those voters was election judge Nena Johnson, who insisted that only "one or two" ballots had the problem and it was quickly fixed.
Voters across the country complained of flaws with electronic voting systems. Bexar County's elections administrator, Jacque Callanen, said that overall, the election locally went smoothly.
In neighboring Medina County, officials worked late to tally votes on some ballots that had inadvertently omitted the state Senate race between Carlos Uresti and Dick Bowden.
County Clerk Elva Miranda said about 420 people lost the opportunity to vote in that race. But the ballots wouldn't have affected the outcome of the race, which Uresti won by more than 18,000 votes.
In San Patricio County, workers had to tally votes by hand because some ballots were three pages long and machines were only designed to handle two pages, said Scott Haywood, spokesman for the Texas secretary of state office.
When those workers were done, they had to start all over because they realized they had tabulated the straight party ballots incorrectly, Haywood said.
Locally, Callanen acknowledged that some machines had failed to activate Tuesday morning. She said some poll workers forgot the machines have two types of plugs and the problem was solved.
Callanen said she was unable to find any flaws with the ballots at Bowden Elementary.
Regarding Medina's complaint about the new polling site, Callanen said the county had put out notices about the change.
She said the county had been required under state law to add 38 new polling sites for the election, which meant some voters were moved.
"We don't sit here and diabolically change polling locations," Callanen said.