Voter Beware

An article from Tuesday’s Washington Post has been making the rounds on The Internets. Apparently the voting machines manufactured by Hart InterCivic, a company based here in Austin, are truncating names of candidates on the final summary screen in Virginia. Since reading the article, I’ve been meaning to double-check that we use the Hart machines here in Texas and wondering if we might have the same problem. Well, this News9Austin article that just appeared in my RSS reader removes any doubt.

Kinky Friedman becomes “Richard ‘Kinky’ F.” Carole Keeton Strayhorn is “Carole Keeton St.” And Texas’ senior senator? Just call her “Kay Bailey Hutch.”

The Washington Post article said that Hart Intercivic hoped to have the problem fixed by next fall. Jean Jensen, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, seemed to be taking the matter seriously. I wonder what Dana DeBouvoir will have to say?

The complicates an already somewhat confusing election. Because of the Supreme Court ruling, two congressional districts in Austin aren’t included in straight ticket voting. For instance, if I want to vote a straight democratic ticket, my U.S. House Rep., Lloyd Doggett, isn’t included in that. I have to be sure that he’s been selected on his own in addition to the straight ticket.

1 Comment so far

  1. chip (unregistered) on October 26th, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

    I could have sworn I’ve seen this behavior before here in Austin.

    The thing is, it’s not nearly as bad as the accounts in some news articles. The truncation happens on the final page, where a single-page summary of votes is displayed for review. It does NOT happen on the selection page, where you cast the vote for the candidate.

    This clearly is a sub-optimal user interface. Whether it results in miscast or uncast ballots is questionable.

    In the overall scheme of things, I’m much more concerned by the lack of a physical audit trail (paper backup) on Travis County’s voting machines.

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