Advisory issued on straight-ticket voting

Voters statewide are reporting problems with straight party voting on both the Republican and Democratic sides.

State election officials have received complaints from early voters who believe Hart eSlate machines changed their votes after casting straight tickets.

It's not the first election where the problem has been reported, and The Texas Secretary of State’s Office calls it "operator error." Still, the office has issued a statement about the issue.

“As a reminder, voters should always carefully check their review screen before casting their ballots,” an advisory issued by Director of Elections Keith Ingram. “If a voter has any problems, they should notify a poll worker immediately so the issues can be addressed and reported.

“The 'enter' button on a Hart eSlate selects a voter’s choice. The selection wheel button on a Hart eSlate allows the voter to move up and down the ballot,” Ingram’s advisory stated. “It is important when voting on a Hart eSlate machine for the voter to use one button or the other and not both simultaneously, and for the voter to not hit the 'Enter' button or use the selection wheel button until a page is fully rendered.

“A voter should note the response to the voter’s action on the keyboard prior to taking another keyboard action. It is also important for the voter to verify their selections are correct before casting their ballot.”

In any case, this general election will be the last in which Texans can cast a straight-ticket vote, choosing all candidates of a single party on their ballot by checking one box.

A state law passed last year eliminates “one punch” ballots and goes into effect in September 2020, just in time for the next presidential election. 

But with the delayed effective date, it is possible the Texas Legislature could reverse course. Almost 64 percent of the votes cast in the state’s 10 largest counties in 2016 came from straight-party ballots, according to the Texas Tribune.

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