Voting equipment used for Tarrant County voters is secure, and operating as it should, according to Tarrant County Elections Administrator Frank Phillips.
He noted that his office has received several calls the past two days alleging that some equipment has changed straight party votes, specifically the choice for President. The majority of the allegations have not come from voters who claim to have had the machines change votes, but from other people who have heard about an incident occurring to someone else.
“From time to time Tarrant County Elections receives these complaints,” he said. “Tarrant County takes these complaints very seriously and we always call the sites and speak with the election judge to see if they have been told about this issue. If the judge can confirm that someone has brought this issue up, we then take that machine out of service until we can test it. We send a technician out to every one of these calls to test the machines. We also try to replicate the issue in our office. We have never been able to replicate the issue, either at the site or in our office. We have instructions in our electronic voting booths that explain how to use the voting equipment along with instruction on how to vote the straight-party option.”
Straight –party voting allows a voter to cast their vote for all candidates of one party. Entering a straight –party vote automatically gives a vote to all candidates associated with that party, and is indicated by a red mark in the box to the left off all candidates’ names with that party. If a voter chooses to “crossover” vote they may select candidates associated with a party other than the straight-party selection, their vote for that candidate will be counted in that particular contest.
“Our investigations have indicated that the voter did not follow the directions for straight-party voting when they inadvertently click the “enter” button or turn the wheel, causing the change in votes,” said Phillips. “Further, in each incident where we could actually speak to a voter, they tell us that they discovered the changed vote on the summary screen display. This shows that the machine is working exactly as it should. The voter gets to review a summary of vote choices made and make any changes as needed before actually casting the vote.”
Studies show that electronic voting systems offer the most accurate and secure method of voting available, said Phillips. It is impossible to “overvote” (vote for more candidates that can be elected). Voters are immediately able to completely correct a vote for the wrong candidate. Voters must view a summary screen of all races and measures before casting the ballot – this gives voters an opportunity to review and change their choices before a vote is cast. Voters are alerted to un-voted or under-voted races on the summary screen. It is impossible to incorrectly mark the ballot, eliminating ambiguity regarding voter intent. Votes are redundantly stored in multiple physical memory locations to preserve election results in the event of equipment failure.
“It is important to remember that voting equipment is only one component of an overall election system that includes citizen involvement, transparency, external security measures, management policies and procedures, and professional election officials,” said Phillips. “All of these people, procedures, and technologies work together to ensure reliable and trustworthy election results.”
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