Naked City

No Blank eSlate?

On Friday, Travis Co. Republican Party Chair Alan Sager delivered to County Attorney Ken Oden several affidavits alleging violations of election law by precinct workers.

Among the complainants are Marc and Beverly McCord, who live in western Travis Co. and cast ballots Oct. 26 at the Lakeway Albertsons. They say a poll worker demonstrating the new eSlate electronic voting machines turned the dial to "Straight Democratic Ticket" and told them to hit "Enter." The McCords also said that as they instead cast ballots for their own choices, the man watched them and observed their votes.

"I was infuriated that he had, in my opinion, made a conscious effort to get me to vote in a manner contrary to my intentions," Marc McCord wrote, adding that he suspected his vote might be changed or not counted after he left the booth. The McCords said they complained to a judge, who appeared "completely unconcerned. So we asked for the Republican judge, and there didn't appear to be one."

Travis Co. Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir was dubious. "It looks to me like we've got judges who are trying to help people. I don't believe there was any mal-intent." She added that in the eSlate system, post-vote changes are impossible.

In initial statements to the press, DeBeauvoir mistakenly identified the alleged offender as a Republican working the morning shift, but Naked City later verified that the worker was Democrat Jack Pool. Pool said, "The fact is that [the dial] landed sometimes on the Democratic Party, sometimes the Republican Party. It was not an attempt to influence, we were just demonstrating." As for watching the McCords cast their votes, "That's quite possibly correct," Pool said. "People would get stuck. There's six pages of ballots, and they couldn't go to the next page. Everybody was sticking, and so I'd normally stand there [and help them]." Both Pool and the morning shift Republican complained that there was insufficient room at the site for an eSlate demonstration outside the voting booth. Election deputy Marjorie Ferrell said, "I am very upset they said I was unconcerned. I said I would take care of a situation if there was one. I don't know what else could have been done." Ferrell said she has worked elections with Pool for two years and, "He has never once tried to influence voters."

The GOP also produced affidavits describing a similar incident at the East Seventh HEB, but without adequate contact information for the complainants or identification for the poll worker other than the name "Aldrete." The county list of election workers shows no one named Aldrete, and DeBeauvoir said, "There is no Aldrete or any name close to it. Basically, he doesn't exist. At this time, I have nothing to go on."

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