Supreme Court declines to hear TDP’s appeal in voting machine suit

No surprise.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to revive the Texas Democratic Party’s lawsuit complaining that eSlate voting machines widely used in the state don’t properly record straight-party votes.

The court declined without comment to hear the case. Democrats had sued Texas and lost in lower-level federal courts.


Attorneys for the party argued that the voting machines, which are used in about 100 of the state’s 254 counties, are prone to undercounting votes in general elections if someone casts a straight-ticket ballot but then marks an individual candidate’s name, as if for emphasis. They said because the equipment doesn’t record votes the same as other machines, use of them is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The Texas Secretary of State’s Office has said that if a voter chooses a straight-ticket option first, but then goes through and pushes buttons for individual candidates on eSlate, those candidates are deselected and a vote for them won’t be cast. If a voter chooses individual candidates first, then decides to pick the straight-ticket box, all of that party’s candidates are selected.

All I can say is that my experience with the eSlate machine matches the SOS description of its behavior, and that I thought it was sufficiently obvious what was happening as to meet a reasonable standard for such things. There’s certainly room for the interface to be improved, and we won’t get into the issue of printed receipts, which I still think would be a fine idea, but I never bought the TDP’s argument in this one. A statement from TDP Chair Boyd Ritchie is beneath the fold.

Statement by Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie regarding the pending eSlate lawsuit:

“While we are disappointed the United States Supreme Court chose not to hear our case at this time, it is clear that among thousands of cases of concern, the Court is able to hear only a few. The eSlate voting system, and others that operate like it, fail to record votes in certain circumstances, and we are hopeful Texas’ new Secretary of State will exercise her authority to require manufacturers to repair these faulty systems. The Texas Democratic Party will continue working vigilantly to support efforts in our State Legislature, in Congress and in our courts to ensure that all eligible Texas citizens are able to register to vote and cast a ballot that counts for the candidate of their choice.”

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