A Texas voter's Facebook post of alleged ballot difficulties has been shared nearly 10,000 times
Donald Trump sent a tweet continuing his oft-invoked claims of a "rigged" election
A social media post about ballot confusion in Texas has Donald Trump stoking claims of electoral corruption, but local officials say there’s not foundation for concern.
Meanwhile, in Georgia, a voting machine has been removed from service after complaints that it flipped votes intended for Hillary Clinton to Trump.
Some voters in Texas, which began its early voting period this week, have experienced problems casting their ballots. A Randall County voter recalled her own mishap in a Facebook post on Monday, saying that she tried to cast a straight Republican ballot – including a vote for Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence – but wound up inadvertently selecting the Democratic ticket of Clinton and Tim Kaine.
As of Thursday morning, the woman’s post has been shared nearly 10,000 times and has generated hundreds of comments.
The Republican presidential nominee took to Twitter to suggest Thursday there have been widespread cases of “vote flipping,” the act of casting a vote for one candidate only to see it awarded to the opponent instead.
“A lot of call-ins about vote flipping at the voting booths in Texas,” Trump tweeted. “People are not happy. BIG lines. What is going on?”
A Trump campaign spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. Trump’s tweet was a continuation of his oft-invoked claims of a “rigged” election, which has emerged as his central campaign message amid eroding poll numbers.
But Shannon Lackey, the elections administrator at Randall County, said there’s no reason for concern.
“Absolutely not … It is not happening in any way, shape or form,” Lackey told CNN on Thursday. “I stand 100% behind what I do. I stand behind my machines, my staff.”
The ballot complaints have surfaced elsewhere in Texas. Another woman said Monday on Facebook that a family member in Arlington, Texas, had her Republican vote changed to Clinton, a post that has been shared more than 200,000 times.
Potter County, which borders Randall County, has encountered similar problems. In each case, officials have attributed the problems to human error.
“There is nothing wrong with any of the machines we use for voting,” Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner said in a statement this week. “They do not flip your vote. They do not flip parties. Humans do that.”
Frank Phillips, the elections administrator in Arlington’s Tarrant County, said that his investigation “indicated that the voter did not follow the directions for straight-party voting.”
Randall County uses the Hart Intercivic eSlate for its elections, an electronic system that allows voters to turn a wheel and push a button to indicate preferences, and Lackey said those machines “work exactly as intended.”
Moreover, voters are dealt a summary screen at the end of each ballot, which allows them to confirm their choices before casting.
Lackey said she is confronted with such confusion most election cycles, and this year has been no exception. Her personal hypothesis is that voters, so accustomed to touch screens in their everyday lives, hit the machine’s button after indicating their choices, inadvertently “deselecting” their preferred vote.
Lackey also pointed out that the Randall County woman behind the viral Facebook post never alleged corruption, and she made it clear that she was able to correct her vote before officially casting the ballot.
“She didn’t use ‘flipping’ or anything like that in her original post,” Lackey said. “I believe that her intention in putting this on Facebook was to say, ‘Hey everyone, pay attention.’”
Georgia machine suspected of ‘flipping’ votes
In Georgia, a voting machine in Bryan County was removed from service after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper reported to election officials that it may have been “flipping” some voters’ choices for president. A voter told the newspaper that it took three tries Tuesday before his choice of Clinton was correctly recorded.
The voter, who requested anonymity from the paper to discuss his experience, said the touchscreen initially selected Trump. He said his wife had a similar problem on the same machine.
Merle King, the executive director for Georgia’s Center for Election Systems at Kennesaw State University, told CNN the machine will be evaluated after the election.
King said a calibration error may be at fault. If improperly calibrated, the screen could be off 3/8th to 1/2 an inch, and other factors – including whether voters have long fingernails, were wearing jewelry, had long sleeves or were leaning on the machine – could be responsible as well.
The Bryan County Board of Elections said in a statement that all machines were successfully tested ahead of this cycle’s elections, and it was not immediately known why the machine in question wasn’t initially working.
King said the machine in question has been in use in the state since 2002. He added that this particular machine had been used by about 20 other voters on Tuesday, but because of confidentiality rules, it’s impossible to say whether other ballots were miscast, though he said no other voters reported problems.
King stressed that voters should follow instructions and check their ballot before submitting.
CNN’s Gladys Bautista contributed to this report.