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Are Texas Voting Machines Switching People's Votes? Officials Blame 'User Error'

Hart Intercivic
Hart Intercivic E-Slate Voting Machine

Why do voters in some of Texas’ largest counties believe voting machines are switching their ballot choices? The company that made the machines and the state’s secretary of state both point to “user error.”

The Texas secretary of state’s office has received fewer than 20 complaints from voters who attempted to vote a straight-ticket ballot. Complainants said their U.S. Senate choices were either de-selected or changed.

Spokesman Sam Taylor said the complaints come from voters using the Hart Intercivic e-Slate voting machine.

RELATED | How To Avoid Problems With Straight-Ticket Voting In Texas

“If voters clicked the button too quickly or started spinning the wheel before the screen had finished rendering, then it could de-select or change one of the choices of one of the candidates on their ballot, depending on how quickly they were spinning the wheel,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the secretary of state’s office received similar voter complaints ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Steve Sockwell with Hart Intercivic said in an email that the e-Slate machine can only record what a voter selects, he said, and there is no way the machine can “flip or switch” votes.

Taylor said the secretary of state’s office investigated the matter, and it agrees with the company. Taylor says the machines are designed so they cannot be manipulated.

“None of the machines are ever connected to the internet. In fact, the computers that program the machines are not connected to the internet. They’re all standalone devices,” Taylor said.

The Hart voting machine is used in 78 Texas counties, which includes Harris, Travis and Tarrant counties, but not in Bexar or Dallas counties.  

Early voting ends Friday. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Ryan Poppe can be reached at rpoppe@tpr.org or on Twitter @RyanPoppe1


Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.