NAACP issues warning about Texas voting machines: Votes for Beto O'Rourke changed to Ted Cruz

The Texas NAACP has drawn attention to problems with voting machines throughout the state

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 31, 2018 9:19AM (EDT)

Beto O'Rourke; Ted Cruz (AP/Salon)
Beto O'Rourke; Ted Cruz (AP/Salon)

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. and Texas State Conference of the NAACP just wrote a powerful letter to the Texas Secretary of State, Rolando B. Pablos, insisting that he protect the voting rights of all Texans after reports of ominous irregularities from voting machines throughout the state.

"In the past week, we have received reports from individuals and voter advocacy groups that some Texas voters attempting to cast a straight-ticket ballot for the Democratic Party on Hart eSlate machines have seen their selection for U.S. Senator switch at the last moment to the candidate for the Republican Party," the NAACP and LDF wrote in their letter. "We have not received reports that this is happening to Texas voters attempting to cast a straight-ticket ballot for the Republican Party on these machines. But our request that your office do more on this issue is non-partisan and will protect all voters."

After describing how the machines in question are used in 82 of Texas' 254 counties, with at least nine of those counties reporting difficulties, the letter goes on to list government concerns about potential Russian meddling in the electoral process and expresses alarm about the fact that if vote tampering were to occur, it would be "nearly impossible to audit after an election, once votes have been cast and election results have been called." It also claims that Pablo's office has not gone far enough to address voters' concerns and calls for him to "immediately assemble an emergency task force of examiners, in accordance with your responsibilities and powers under the Texas Election Code, to inspect and audit a representative sample of the Hart eSlate machines currently in operation in at least the counties of Coryell, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, McLennan, Montgomery, Nagadoches, Tarrant, and Travis, as well as any other counties where similar issues have been reported to your office or in the media to date."

The letter adds, "At minimum, this task force should be comprised of an equal number of members from the major political parties, as well as organizations that advocate on behalf of Texas voters like the Texas NAACP and Texas Civil Rights Project."

While there are thousands of elections being held in Texas this year, perhaps the most conspicuous one is the United States Senate race between the Republican incumbent, Sen. Ted Cruz, and his Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke. Although Cruz has maintained a consistent lead over O'Rourke in most polls, O'Rourke has been closing the gap in recent polls, with a survey released on Monday finding him only five points behind Cruz as opposed to other polls that had put him even further behind. As assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll Peter A. Brown put it in a press release on Tuesday, "With a week to go, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz remains in front, with a slim lead over U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. O’Rourke is within striking distance, but time is running out in a race that Democrats have hoped would deliver an upset victory that would be key to a Senate takeover."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Beto O’rourke Naacp Rolando B. Pablos Ted Cruz Texas Texas Naacp