Articles about voting issues in Texas.

Texas: 5th Circuit temporarily blocks online voter registration for Texas drivers | The Texas Tribune

Texas will not be required to meet a 45-day deadline to implement online voter registration for drivers — for now. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that mandated a voter registration system that would allow drivers to register to vote when they renew their driver’s licenses online. The requirement was part of U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling that Texas was violating a federal voter registration law — also known as the “Motor Voter Act” — that’s meant to ease the voter registration process.

Full Article: 5th Circuit temporarily blocks online voter registration for Texas drivers | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Hughes’ committee election report calls for paper ballot trail, lays ground for bills in 2019 Legislature | Longview News-Journal

A 17-page report issued by a Texas Senate panel led by East Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes gives a preview of election security bills that lawmakers will take up when they convene in Austin at the new year. Released to the public Wednesday, the report by the Senate Select Committee on Election Security does not include recommendations on combating mail ballot fraud. That topic took up much of the seven-member, bipartisan panel’s only meeting Feb. 22. … The report devotes much of its attention to the cybersecurity of voting systems in Texas and recommends that all electronic voting machines in the state produce a paper ballot voters can inspect before casting their ballots.

Full Article: Hughes' committee election report calls for paper ballot trail, lays ground for bills in 2019 Legislature | Gregg | news-journal.com.

Texas: Texas Legal Fight Over Redistricting Isn’t Over | Dallas Observer

It turns out the nearly decade-long fight over Texas’ legislative districts didn’t actually end with the Supreme Court’s ruling against the plaintiffs in June. Late Friday afternoon, the coalition of voting rights groups that have fought the state for fairer legislative districts since the last round of redistricting in 2010 filed a pair of new briefs with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin. They seek to have the state forced back into federal preclearance under the Voting Rights Act. States subject to the VRA’s preclearance provision must seek and receive federal approval for any changes they make to any law that applies to voting. Texas has been free from the requirement since 2013, when the Supreme Court cleared the list of states subject to preclearance, but could be placed back on the naughty list if federal courts determine that the state is intentionally discriminatory in its voting laws.

Full Article: Texas Redistricting Fight Is Never Going to Die | Dallas Observer.

Texas: Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrates eight-year sentence against woman who accidentally voted illegally. | Salon

Earlier this month, the Texas 2nd Court of Appeals affirmed Rosa Maria Ortega’s eight-year prison sentence for illegal voting. Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the decision in a triumphant press release boasting of Ortega’s draconian punishment. But there is nothing just about the fact that Ortega may spend the next eight years languishing behind bars for unknowingly casting illegal ballots. To the contrary, her sentence is wildly out of proportion with her crime—the possible result of prosecutorial chicanery during closing arguments that has no place in a courtroom. And it’s yet another example of prosecutors using isolated cases of illegal voting to intimidate legitimate voters out of casting a ballot. Although Paxton has presented Ortega’s conduct as evidence that voter fraud is a genuine problem in Texas, her case bears no resemblance to the paranoid myth of immigrants covertly swinging elections. Ortega is a lawful permanent resident who was brought to the United States as a baby. She has a sixth-grade education and did not know that she could not legally vote.

Full Article: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrates eight-year sentence against woman who accidentally voted illegally..

Texas: A Woman Who Voted With A Green Card Was Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison — And A Court Upheld It | Bustle

On Wednesday, an appeals court upheld a voter fraud conviction against a Texas woman who voted with a green card. Rosa Maria Ortega was originally convicted in 2017, despite the fact that she claimed she had no idea her green card didn’t provide her voting rights. Now, Ortega, a mother of four, has been sentenced to a jail time of eight years, as well as likely deportation. According to NBC News, Ortega voted five times from 2004-2014, and served as a poll worker; she even voted for the attorney general who is now prosecuting her, a man named Ken Paxton. Ortega’s attorney told The Washington Post in 2017, “She’s got this [green] card that says ‘resident’ on it, so she doesn’t mark that she’s not a citizen. She had no ulterior motive beyond what she thought, mistakenly, was her civic duty.” In a statement in 2017, when Ortega was first convicted, Paxton said, “This case shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure, and the outcome sends a message that violators of the state’s election law will be prosecuted to the fullest.” He added, “Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy.”

Full Article: A Woman Who Voted With A Green Card Was Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison — And A Court Upheld It.

Texas: Should Texas require county voting machines to have a paper trail? | Victoria Advocate

In the wake of the November midterm elections, counties throughout the U.S. are taking stock of their election processes while advocates and legislators debate what should change to make elections more secure and accessible the next time around. The piecemeal method of voting in the U.S. means that regulations and methods of voting vary dramatically from state to state, and sometimes even within states. In Texas, that piecemeal nature is even more on display: Some counties use electronic voting machines, some counties use paper ballots and some use both. One voting reform that’s frequently been invoked amid anxieties about vote recounts or voting systems being hacked is mandating a paper trail.

Full Article: Pro-Con: Should Texas require county voting machines to have a paper trail? | Local News | victoriaadvocate.com.

Texas: State needs new voting machines but will the state pay for them? | KXAN

When many Texas counties bought their latest voting machines, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears just broke up, Nickelback was popular, and the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law. The year was 2002. Most county officials bought machines after Florida’s fumbled the 2000 election and Congress passed the Help America Vote Act. In 2018, county voting machines confused many Texans who accidentally changed their votes after machines took several seconds to populate results. “Connection issues” plagued Hays County and voting machines temporarily malfunctioned in Williamson County during the 2018 November elections. Several Texas lawmakers filed bills to require new voting machines but one Central Texas lawmaker thinks the state should help pay for them. 

Full Article: Texas needs new voting machines but will the state pay for them?.

Texas: Straight-ticket voting ends in 2020. For some down-ballot Republicans, that wasn’t soon enough. | The Texas Tribune

As Harris County judge, Ed Emmett led the state’s biggest county — 4.7 million people — through its most devastating natural disaster. That work won the moderate Republican bipartisan support, even in a county that overwhelmingly went blue in 2016. But last week, Emmett lost his re-election bid in a close race — the closest in the county. And come January, the incumbent will turn his job over to Democrat Lina Hidalgo, a 27-year-old political newcomer who had never attended a meeting of the commissioners court she will now lead (she has, she said, watched them online). At the top of the ticket, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz lost the county by more than 200,000 votes; Emmett’s race — midway down the longest ballot in the country — was decided by a margin of about 19,000 votes.

Full Article: Did straight-ticket voting doom dozens of down-ballot Republicans? | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Harris County keeps some voting locations open an extra hour | The Texas Tribune

A state district judge has ordered Harris County to extend voting hours at nine polling locations that failed to open on time this morning. The order to keep nine voting locations open an extra hour until 8 p.m. came soon after the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Texas Organizing Project sued the county over delays at those polling places. The groups alleged that the county was violating the Texas Election Code because polling locations that opened after 7 a.m. would not remain open to voters for 12 hours on Election Day as required by state law. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday afternoon, the two groups noted that the nine polling locations across the state’s biggest county “not only failed to open at 7 a.m., but remained closed until well after 7 a.m.,” the plaintiffs wrote. Voting was further delayed at some polling locations because of equipment issues, including sign-in and voting machines that weren’t working.

Full Article: Harris County in Texas to keep some voting locations open an extra hour | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Straight-ticket voting problems could be due to old machines | The Texas Tribune

A national spotlight fell on Texas’ voting equipment last week after some voters complained that their votes on electronic voting machines had changed. State election officials chalked it up to user error. Critics alleged malfeasance or a software bug. The Austin-based company behind the machines says an important piece of context is missing from this debate: these machines are 16 years old. “It’s very much like someone calling Apple and asking for support on their iPhone 1,” said Steven Sockwell, vice president of marketing at Hart InterCivic. Most Texas counties last upgraded their electronic voting machines well over a decade ago, tapping billions in funds Congress approved to upgrade voting equipment around the country following election irregularities during the 2000 presidential election. Dozens of Texas counties purchased Hart’s eSlate machines. It’s those same machines that a number of voters attempted to cast straight-ticket ballots on last week only to hit a snag: when they reviewed their list of candidates on the summary screen, their choices were deselected or a candidate from an opposing party was selected.

Full Article: Texas straight-ticket voting problems could be due to old machines | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Fighting for the Right to Vote in a Tiny Texas County | The Atlantic

In Waller County, Texas, a 40,000-strong exurb to the northwest of Houston, early voting is simple. Texas law mandates that the county maintain a main voting site, located in the county seat of Hempstead, that is open for at least five hours every day from Monday, October 22, to Friday, November 2. During those two weeks, satellite centers provide voting hours farther out in the county. Residents in the towns of Brookshire and Waller, two of the larger places in Waller County, have multiple days to cast a ballot in both the first and second week of early voting. As guided by state law, the early-voting plans in Waller County are intended to both maximize a finite pool of resources and ensure that most of the voters in the county have at least some convenient entry points for early voting that can fit into their schedule. All of that applies so long as you aren’t a black college student, according to a lawsuit filed last week in a U.S. district court by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The suit, brought on behalf of several students at Prairie View A&M University, alleges that the county shortchanges students with a local early-voting plan that uniquely constrains their choices, offering only three days of on-campus early voting in the second week.*

Full Article: Prairie View A&M Students File Suit Over Voting Hours - The Atlantic.

Texas: Hart eSlate Voting Machines Have Been ‘a Known Problem’ for a Decade | Motherboard

Texas voters experiencing issues with voting machines used in that state have been told by election officials that they are the problem, not the machines. The state says voters are inadvertently touching the machines in ways they shouldn’t, causing the machines to alter or delete their vote in the hotly contested senate race between Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke. But Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice University in Houston who has examined the systems extensively in the past, told Motherboard in a phone interview that the problem is a common type of software bug that the maker of the equipment could have fixed a decade ago and didn’t, despite previous voter complaints. What’s more, he says the same systems have much more serious security problems that the manufacturer has failed to fix that make them susceptible to hacking. The problem involves eSlate voting machines made by Hart InterCivic—direct-recording electronic machines that use a dial and button for voters to make their selections. Voters turn the dial in the lower right corner of the machine to scroll through each race and page of a digital ballot, and press the “enter” button, located just left of the dial, to make their selections.

Full Article: An Expert Explains Why Texas Voting Machines Are Switching Votes From Beto O'Rourke to Ted Cruz.

Texas: Software bugs could compromise midterm votes in Texas | CNET

A software flaw can be just as damaging to the voting process as a hacker. That much is clear in Texas, where some early voters have claimed that machines are changing their votes in the midterm election. Keith Ingram, the Texas Director of Elections, said in an advisory that the problem is happening because voters are jumping the gun. The issue crops up if a voter selects the “straight party ticket” option, and then keeps pressing buttons before the page finishes loading on the screen, he said. “As a reminder, voters should always carefully check their review screen before casting their ballots,” Ingram said. … Electronic voting machine experts should expand their focus beyond looking for the kinds of flaws a hacker could exploit, and start looking for flaws that just make machines malfunction, said voting machine security expert Dan Wallach, a computer science professor at Rice University. “I would say that a decade ago we put a lot of focus on security bugs” he said. “Glitches have never received the same degree of attention.”

Full Article: Software bugs could compromise midterm votes in Texas - CNET.

Texas: Texans say glitchy voting machines are changing their ballots. The state blames user error. | The Washington Post

“Make sure to confirm that your summary page accurately reflects your choices BEFORE casting your ballot!” reads a flier distributed by the Texas secretary of state’s election division to state polling locations. The notice was the agency’s quick fix for a glitch in its widely used Hart eSlate voting machines. Texas native Peter Martin, 69, was one of many who missed the message. “I’ve always voted. It’s the only opportunity that I have to make any sort of difference in terms of politics,” he said. When the registered independent went to a recreational center in Grapevine, Tex., last week, he planned to vote for Senate hopeful Beto O’Rourke. The Hart machine offered a fast-tracked option for straight-ticket voters. Martin selected it, expecting the machine to populate an all-Democrat ballot.

Full Article: Texas voting machines: ballot errors as O'Rourke races Cruz - The Washington Post.

Texas: Here’s how to avoid problems with straight-ticket voting in Texas | The Texas Tribune

Voters from around the state have reported a curious thing happening at the polls this week: They meant to vote straight-ticket but when they reviewed their final list of selected candidates, someone from an opposing party was picked instead. Some people wondered if there was malfeasance. Others blamed malfunctioning voting machines. And both Democrats and Republicans have tried to warn voters in their respective parties. But according to the Texas secretary of state’s office, the voting machines are not at fault. Rather, the problems reported are the result of “voters hitting a button or using the selection wheel before the screen is finished rendering,” which de-selects the pre-filled candidate selection. “The issue is occurring primarily with the U.S. Senate race selections, because it is at the top of the ballot,” said Sam Taylor, a spokesman for the secretary of state. On Saturday, that office said that it has only been notified of fewer than 20 related issues. “In each case, these voters were able to properly review and cast a ballot that accurately reflected the choices they made,” the office said in a statement.

Full Article: No, Texas voting machines aren’t malfunctioning and changing votes | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Company blames Texas voters’ problems on user error, saying its machines don’t flip straight-ticket ballots | Dallas Morning News

Some voters have said their straight-ticket ballots have switched to candidates in the opposite party, but the company that makes the machines said they don’t do that and have been used in the last nine election cycles without any problems. Several voters have complained to Texas election officials that their votes for Rep. Beto O’Rourke switched to Sen. Ted Cruz, or vice versa, on Hart InterCivic’s eSlate machine. Houston resident Mickey Blake told KTRK-TV (Channel 13) that she voted straight-ticket Democrat, but on the final review screen, she noticed all Democratic candidates were selected except for O’Rourke. Cordell Hosea of Fort Bend County told the station that the same thing happened to him. But Hart, which is based in Austin, blamed the problems on user error.

Full Article: Company blames Texas voters' problems on user error, saying its machines don't flip straight-ticket ballots | 2018 Elections | Dallas News.

Texas: Reports of Voter Intimidation at Polling Places in Texas | ProPublica

Tempers are flaring during early voting in Dallas County, Texas, and reports of voter intimidation are on the rise. The county’s nonpartisan election administrator said that the harassment — including name-calling and interrogating voters waiting in line — is the worst she’s seen in decades. “I’ve been here for 30 years, and this harassment that’s going on, I haven’t ever seen the likes of this,” said Toni Pippins-Poole, the county’s election director. “I’ve seen some other things, props being used and whatnot, but nothing like this type of mentality or aggressiveness or demeaning type of actions.” At the Lakeside Activity Center in Mesquite, Texas, election administrators received complaints of a partisan poll watcher looking over voter’s shoulders as they cast their ballots and questioning voters on their politics. The person was later escorted out by Mesquite Police Department officers on Monday after refusing to leave the premises, according to Pippins-Poole.

Full Article: Reports of Voter Intimidation at Polling Places in Texas — ProPublica.

Texas: Students sue Waller County, allege voting rights violations | Associated Press

A group of students from a historically black university have filed a lawsuit alleging a southeast Texas county is suppressing the voting rights of its black residents. In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Houston on Monday, five Prairie View A&M University students allege Waller County election officials are violating the civil rights of black students and residents in Prairie View — which is predominantly African-American — by not providing any early voting locations on campus or anywhere in the city during the first week of early voting, which started Monday. In the second week of early voting, the county is providing five days in Prairie View, but two of them are off-campus and at a site that is not easily accessible to many students who lack transportation, according to the lawsuit.

Full Article: Students sue Texas county, allege voting rights violations | Idaho Statesman.

Texas: Attorneys: Fraud charges an attempt to suppress Texas vote | Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Recent charges alleging that four women are part of an organized voter fraud ring on the city’s north side — announced just weeks before the Nov. 6 midterm election — are political moves geared to diminish minority voting in one of the state’s reddest counties, two attorneys allege. “They are political footballs being kicked back and forth by people who have a vested interest in suppressing minority vote,” said Greg Westfall, who along with Frank Sellers is representing one of the women, Leticia Sanchez Tepichin. “They are mothers and grandmothers. They are active in the community. “They are being used by people who want to justify voter ID,” he said. “At the end of the day, there’s not going to be any fraud in this deal.” These comments come one week after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office announced that four people were arrested — Tepichin, her mother Leticia Sanchez, Maria Solis and Laura Parra — after being indicted on dozens of felony counts of voter fraud.

Full Article: Attorneys: Fraud charges an attempt to suppress Texas vote | Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Texas: Can Hackers Mess With Texas’s Elections? | Texas Monthly

When we think about those who defend the territorial integrity of our nation and state, we tend to imagine well-equipped members of the U.S. armed forces, or perhaps a square-jawed detachment of Texas Rangers. Increasingly, however, the twenty-first century battle for control of the American homeland is being fought in the computerized elections systems overseen by our humble county clerks.

Here in Texas, votes in federal and state elections are tallied independently by 254 local officials, one in each county seat, from big cities like Houston and Dallas to tiny courthouse towns like Tahoka and Floydada. If a hostile country decides to hack an election in Texas, that means pitting Russia’s (or Iran’s or North Korea’s or China’s) most skilled hackers against a group of officials and volunteers who may not even know their way around an iPhone. “We’re asking county clerks, and for that matter local poll workers, to defend against a nation-state adversary,” says Dan Wallach, computer science professor at Rice and expert on election security issues. “That’s not a fair fight.”

Full Article: Can Hackers Mess With Texas’s Elections? – Texas Monthly.