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Problems are reported with vote machines
STAR-TELEGRAM   By AMAN BATHEJA   November 8, 2006

Scattered voting problems were reported on Election Day in North Texas, including reports that some voters received the wrong ballots or could not cast ballots for a Democrat.

Some problems were blamed on the electronic voting machines that are still new to many voters; others were blamed on human error.

The problems were among a variety reported at polling sites throughout the state, where many voters used electronic voting machines for the first time. Voting was brisk in Tarrant County and statewide.

In Tarrant County, the problems began early when a polling place in Grapevine opened a half-hour late. The Grapevine Community Activities Center on Municipal Way did not open until 7:30 a.m. because of a shortage of poll workers, Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn said.

The location did not extend its hours to make up for the late start, Raborn said.

At Northridge Elementary School in Fort Worth, poll workers inadvertently gave all voters the same ballot for nearly the first eight hours, even though some voters were from a different precinct, Raborn said.

About 230 people had voted before the problem was identified, about 2:45 p.m., Raborn said.

The only difference between the two ballots was the races for justice of the peace.

All the voters who arrived before 2:45 p.m. voted for the Precinct 3 race, which is uncontested, when some should have voted in the Precinct 1 race, Raborn said.

Because ballots are confidential, there is no way to identify who received the wrong ballot, Raborn said.

Other voters said they were unable to vote on Fort Worth's meet-and-confer proposition. Two Fort Worth voters told the Star-Telegram that they voted on the electronic machines Tuesday only to discover that their ballot did not include the meet-and-confer proposition.

Raborn said the problem likely stemmed from an election judge who may have accidentally input the wrong ballot into the machine. If the voter complained about the problem before casting his or her vote, then the judge should have been able to cancel the ballot, he said.

Robert McKenzie-Smith, a real estate developer, said he had looked forward to voting on meet and confer. When he didn't see it on his ballot, he told poll workers, only to be told that it was too late to fix it.

"You feel disappointed that they can't get something as basically simple as a damn ballot right," McKenzie-Smith said.

Others complained to the advocacy group Common Cause that the electronic machines tried to switch their vote from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell to Republican incumbent Rick Perry, Common Cause spokeswoman Mary Boyle said.

And in Fort Bend County, there were various problems with electronic voting machines, including some machines being delivered to the wrong polling places, according to the Houston Chronicle's Web site.


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