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Texas Voters Urged to Avoid Straight-Party Option, After Vote-Flip Complaints

comment has a story urging Texas voters to avoid selecting a straight-party option on e-voting machines after numerous complaints that some of the machines have been flipping votes from Democratic choices to Republican ones. See:

Three of the most used voting machines companies have been cited - Election Systems & Software, Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold) and Hart InterCivic. The Wired article reports:

Because of the reports of problems, many election integrity groups are urging voters to forego the option.

"We're asking people to avoid the straight-party option entirely and if you want to vote for candidates who are all from the same party, mark them each individually in each race," said Ellen Thiessen, founder of VotersUnite.

Complaints so far have come in from at least seven Texas counties -- Collin, Dallas, El Paso, Galveston, Harris, Jefferson, and Palo Pinto.

The Dallas Morning News has reported another problem, where citizens have been receiving a suspicious email that further confuses the issue:

"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.

State party officials have posted a warning message on their Web site and encourage straight-party voting as a way to ensure Obama â?? and other Democrats on the ballot â?? get a vote.

Harris County Democratic Chairman Gerry Birnberg sent out a warning e-mail of his own. Harris County uses eSlate equipment and includes Houston, the state's largest and generally Democratic city.

"THIS IS FALSE INFORMATION probably initiated by Republican dirty tricksters, but now being spread by well-meaning Barack Obama supporters," Birnberg's e-mail says.

A spokesman for the Texas Republican Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Democratic Party doesn't know who originated the e-mail, but Nieto says it appears to be targeted to Obama supporters.

"The main purpose of this e-mail is to cause confusion and to affect the outcome of elections," he said. "It's important that this malicious e-mail be stopped."

Anecdotal evidence would seem to suggest that the safest way to make sure your voting choices are counted accurately is to take the time to individually select each race one at a time...

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