AUSTIN (KXAN) — Despite chatter online, voting machines in 78 Texas counties are not purposely switching votes at the top of the ticket.
The voting machines are, however, old, outdated, and slow. A voter causes a problem after they vote “straight ticket” then pushes another button or moves the dial before the machine renders.
Selections were reported changed on the Hart InterCivic eSlate voting machines at the top of the ticket – the hotly contested race between Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso.
“When you go to a self-checkout at a grocery store and you hover the item over the scanner it accidentally scans twice. You have to call over somebody to delete one of those items off. It’s not the machine’s fault. It’s not the store’s fault,” said Sam Taylor from the Secretary of State’s office, making the comparison.
The machines counties use are old. They were bought around 15 years ago.
“Some of these have computer technology that was last certified in 2009, a lot of things have happened since then,” said Taylor.
Travis and Hays County both use Hart’s eSlate machines. Staff in both counties tell me the machines are slow and voters move through the ballot too quickly.
But should counties own newer machines? That’s a different question. That’s decided by your county commissioners.
Staff for Hart Intercivic did not make themselves available for an interview but did confirm what Texas Secretary of State, Travis County staff, and Hays County staff tells KXAN. They all advise voters to double check their work on the summary page before they push the ‘cast-ballot’ button.
However, the chair of the Texas Democratic Party issued a statement saying the Secretary of State didn’t take additional steps after a similar problem was reported in 2016.
“The first step in solving a problem is recognizing that you have one, and the Texas Secretary of State’s office has one. This is not a new problem, their office knew about potential flaws in their voting machines and chose to ignore them for years,” wrote Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa.
The Texas legislature has acted since the 2016 election. In 2017, lawmakers passed a law banning straight ticket voting beginning in September 2020.
A trio of privately held companies serve as the gatekeepers of U.S. election integrity sell and service more than 90% of the U.S. elections system.
Hart InterCivic of Austin made the current Travis County and Hays County systems. Dominion Voting Systems of Denver and Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Nebraska also operate in Texas. Williamson County uses machines from Election Systems & Software.
In August, the Travis County Commissioners Court approved an $8.16 million contract with Election Systems & Software for a new voting system to be used starting in November 2019.