Votes De-selected by Voters Following Incorrect Instructions From Officials...
By John Gideon on 10/21/2008, 2:57pm PT  

Guest Blogged By John Gideon, VotersUnite.Org

Misinformation being circulated, concerning straight-party voting in Texas (and elsewhere) is beginning to be a big problem, and will undoubtedly lead to voters deselecting their preferred Presidential candidate, and possibly flipping their own votes to another candidate. This from the Travis County today:

Voters were misinformed Monday at an early voting location at Randalls on West Ben White Blvd. As voters waited, the Travis County Elections Division said a "poll cat" gave voters inaccurate instructions.

"He said... 'Let me tell you, make sure you vote straight ticket, then you also vote for Obama to make sure the vote counts,'" said Erica Prosser, who witnessed the incident at Randalls.

In reality, pressing the button for a candidate whose name is already highlighted deselects that candidate.

These "poll cats" should be stopped by local authorities. But, unfortunately, the above incident wasn't the only problem with straight-party voting in Texas, and even election officials, at least one in Williamson County, appear to have been circulating the same incorrect information to voters...

According to the Taylor Daily Press in Williamson County...

According to party officials, a voter contacted the county Democratic Party after examining information Williamson County Elections Administrator Rick Barron had circulated via e-mail concerning a straight ticket vote.

"A voter can vote straight party and have all of their votes count, the e-mail states. They can also vote straight party and then select every Democrat again, if they so chose."

According to campaign officials, when an east Williamson County voter voted using electronic machines, she selected a straight party ticket, effectively selecting each Democrat on the ballot. She then went back and selected a Democrat’s name again. By doing so, it unchecked that selection, according to a release from one of the campaigns.

Mr. Barron, if this is all true, is sending out false information to voters. If the voters vote straight party and then go back and select every Democrat again they will, in fact, deselect those choices. Theoretically, the same would be true for Republican straight-party voters.

Jim Schutze in the Dallas Observer Blog reports a similar incident today:

I got a call this morning from a gentlemen who'd just early-voted at Harry Stone Montessori. He said his voting machine tried to con him into voting for a judge in the wrong party.

Like this: He voted a straight ticket for one party. Then he wanted to deselect two judges he didn't want to vote for. And he didn't want to vote for the other party's candidates. He didn't want anyone in those races.

But when he deselected the first one, the machine showed him with a check mark for the other party's candidate in that race. He complained to the election judge, who, he says, told him the machine did that automatically. The voter told the election judge he didn't believe it should. She came over and watched the voter deselect the second judge. That one stayed blank.

He deselected the first one again, and it stayed blank. The election judge shut down the machine."

VotersUnite has logged more problems that can be directly attributed to straight-party voting than to any other issue so far this election season. In the above instance when the voter deselected two judicial races those races should have stayed blank. He has a right to not vote in any race he wants.

We've got more info at VotersUnite here on concerns about straight-party voting in other states as well as Texas. It is clear that in the 15 states that allow straight-party voting voters need to skip the option; vote for each race separately.