“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.
“It floored me. My vote showed up on the machine for the wrong senator. Instead of Beto O’Rourke — the Democratic candidate — it said [Republican candidate] Ted Cruz,” he said. After noticing the error, Martin backtracked to the initial screen and manually registered his vote.
The Texas secretary of state has been aware of the issue for at least a week.
An election advisory from Director of Elections Keith Ingram, dated Oct. 23, said: “We have heard from a number of people voting on Hart eSlate machines that when they voted straight ticket, it appeared to them that the machine had changed one or more of their selections to a candidate from a different party. This can be caused by the voter taking keyboard actions before a page has fully appeared on the eSlate, thereby de-selecting the pre-filled selection of that party’s candidate.”