An e-mail circulating throughout Texas and apparently targeting supporters of Democrat Barack Obama falsely warns voters that casting a straight-ticket Democratic ballot won’t register a vote for Obama.
Democratic leaders are crying foul. First, it’s not true, they say.
Second, they think it could cause people using the eSlate electronic voting machines to inadvertently cancel out their downballot straight-ticket voters, eliminating potentially millions of votes for Democratic candidates in state and county races.
“For those who normally vote ‘Straight Democratic’, please pay close attention!!!!!” states the e-mail, obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.
“I was informed this weekend by a group of Obama volunteers that when voting for the presidential candidate this November, you have to make sure you punch Barack’s name first, then proceed to punch ‘Straight Democratic’ or else the vote for the president won’t count,” the e-mail says.
Quite the opposite, says Texas Democratic Party spokesman Hector Nieto said.
With eSlate, punching the button for presidential candidate Obama after punching the straight-ticket button will actually cancel the straight-ticket vote, Nieto said.
HCDP Chair Gerry Birberg sent out an email in response to this a couple of days ago. The TDP has this on its webpage.
If you wish to vote for all candidates of a particular party:
When you mark “Straight Democratic” then cast your ballot, your vote will count for Barack Obama and all the Democratic candidates, including all congressional, state and local Democrats on the general election ballot.
NOTE: A separate vote for an individual candidate is required only in a special election (e.g., Senate District 17)
If you do not wish to vote a straight party vote, you must mark each individual candidate for whom you wish to vote, and then cast your ballot.
DO NOT SELECT “STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC” AND THEN SELECT INDIVIDUAL DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES. THIS COULD CANCEL OUT YOUR VOTE FOR THOSE INDIVIDUAL CANDIDATES!
Additionally, carefully read the review screen after marking your selection and before casting your ballot. If you have any questions at the polls, ask an election judge for assistance. Visit our Voter Information page for more information about deceptive voting information and to review your rights as a Texas voter.
So bottom line: If you intend to vote for all Democrats, just push the Straight Democratic button and be done with it. If you intend to do something else, skip the straight ticket button and vote (or skip) each race as you see fit.
Now of course, a better-designed interface would warn you if you were about to do something that you might not intend to do, and give you the option to back out of that action before you commit to it. The eSlate does show you a list of who you voted for before you cast your ballot, but as I always vote in each race individually I can’t say what they display for straight-ticket-with-overrides case. Just be aware of this and push back on it if that email lands in your inbox. Thanks.