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BREAKING STORY: County Responds to Voting Machine Problems
BY LEE NICHOLS Austin Chronicle    22 October 2004

Travis County election officials have responded to complaints that voters casting straight-party Democratic ballots are discovering, when performing a final check of their ballots, that their votes for president have been changed from Kerry/Edwards to Bush/Cheney. The officials say that, after trying and failing to replicate the problem on its eSlate voting machines, they have concluded the vote changes are due to voter error rather than mechanical failure.

Gail Fisher, manager of the county's Elections Division, theorizes that after selecting their straight party vote, some voters are going to the next page on the electronic ballot and pressing "enter," perhaps thinking they are pressing "cast ballot" or "next page." Since the Bush/Cheney ticket is the first thing on the page, it is highlighted when the page comes up ? and thus, pressing "enter" at that moment causes the Kerry/Edwards vote to be changed to Bush/Cheney.

Fisher stressed very strongly that voters should not rush, but carefully and thoroughly examine their ballots on the final review page before pressing "cast ballot."

Fisher said the county has received "less than a dozen" complaints from the more than 70,000 voters that had cast ballots by Friday afternoon. She said the county has also received a complaint from the Travis County Democratic Party. TCDP Executive Director

Elizabeth Yevich said it was not a formal complaint, but that the party had expressed concern and the county had been "receptive and responsive."

Yevich also said that an e-mail alerting voters to the problem, originally sent out from her office, "has taken on a life of its own."

"The body of the e-mail is staying the same, but the headline is being changed or its saying 'this came from brother' or something like that," Yevich said.

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