Problems at polls (TX)
Philip Jankowski Taylor Daily Press 21 October 2008
Campaigns allege voter misinformation
Early voting began Monday with Democrats crying foul over what some county party officials are calling misinformation on voting procedures. Officials from the campaigns of two candidates called advice from Williamson County Elections Administrator Rick Barron unsound.
According to party officials, a voter contacted the county Democratic Party after examining information Barron had circulated via e-mail concerning a straight ticket vote.
“A voter can vote straight party and have all of their votes count,” the e-mail states. “They can also vote straight party and then every Democrat again, if they so chose.”
According to campaign officials, when an east Williamson County voter voted using electronic machines, she ed a straight party ticket, effectively ing each Democrat on the ballot. She then went back and ed a Democrat’s name again. By doing so, it unchecked that ion, according to a release from one of the campaigns.
Braden T. Frame, campaign manager for county attorney candidate Jaime Lynn, stopped short of calling the mix-up politically motivated.
“I’d like to think that it was just incomplete info,” Frame said. “It directly conflicted what the Texas Democratic Party was sending out.”
The initial concern came over erroneous information some Democrats think was intended to cost presidential candidate Barack Obama votes. Misinformation has been circulated stating that to vote a straight party ticket and have a vote for Obama count, the voter would need to Obama’s name again. In fact, by doing that the voter would take a vote away from Obama.
Any race left unchecked will prompt a verification screen when using an electronic voting machine, Barron said.
“This has totally gotten out of hand,” Barron said. “The bottom line is, if you want to vote straight Democratic Party, vote straight party. When you get to the review screen, you’re going to see that no ion was made in some cases, and that’s because the Democrats don’t have a candidate in every race.”
Voters also reported other problems in the county on the first day of early voting. One Taylor voter was turned away at City Hall when their address did not match their registration card, which Frame said was improper.
In Round Rock, pollsters initially refused to accommodate a disabled person who needed assistance. However, that mistake was corrected, Frame said.
If a voter runs into problems at a polling place, they must at least be allowed to case a provisional ballot.
Provisional voting is designed to allow a voter whose name does not appear on the list of registered voters due to an administrative error to vote. The voter must complete an affidavit stating the reasons he or she is qualified to vote.
The provisional ballots are kept separate from the regular ballots and the voter’s records will be reviewed later by the provisional voting ballot board (the early voting ballot board). The ballot is counted only if the voter is determined to be a registered voter.
Provisional voters will receive a notice in the mail by the 10th day after the local canvass advising them if their provisional ballots were counted.