by: Capella Tucker, October 30, 2006 12:10:00 am
Many elections have write-in candidates. But the e-slate process for writing in a candidate's name is getting a lot of attention this year because of the District 22 race to replace former Congressman Tom DeLay. Harris County Clerk Spokesperson David Beirne says the e-slate does change how a voter enters a name on a ballot.
"If they want to vote a write-in, they simply select the write-in option. A separate screen will appear allowing them to rotate the wheel and press enter for each letter of that candidate's name."
When the voter returns to the main screen of the ballot, it will show the write-in entry. Beirne says that's the first opportunity for voters to see what they've done.
"It will also appear on the ballot summary page, which is the final screen the voter will see before finishing the voting process and casting the ballot to record their vote. So there's two ways to verify your selection and of course you can always go back in and make any corrections."
But the entry doesn't have to be perfect. Texas is a voter intent state. As long as the voter's intent can be determined, the vote will count. Beirne says every single entry is reviewed.
"We cannot tell people what is and what is not going to count prior to reviewing each entry, but what I always tell people is make sure that even the most unreasonable people can agree what your intent is. So make sure you do enough and keep in mind it's a political environment and the most unreasonable people can be very disagreeable at times."
Harris County has had e-slates since 2001. In Fort Bend County, this is the first general election with e-slates. Election Administrator J.R. Perez estimates that 60 percent of the voting population has not yet voted electronically. He says demo units will be at polling places for voters to practice on if they wish to before actually voting. Perez explains early ballot boards and resoluation committees made up of both Democrats and Republicans review ballots in question.
"And this is not something that is new to them. This is people we've been using for a long time. They've been doing this all the time. We've been doing this for paper ballots."
Perez says mailed ballots still have hand-writing on them, but boards will now be looking at typed letters from the e-slate.
"The e-slates will be typed in so it's not a matter of discerning the letter that's written there. It's discerning the name there that they were trying to spell."
Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.