August 23, 2006

More on Write In Voting in the Texas 22

Fort Bend Now has this interesting information on how misspelled votes cast for the Republican write in candidates in the Texas CD22 district will be treated:

    Most voters in CD-22 now do their voting on electronic machines, such as Fort Bend County's Hart InterCivic's eSlate system.

    Pitfalls in trying to cast a vote for Shelley Sekula-Gibbs include the fact that the machine has no function for selecting a hyphen, said Fort Bend County Elections Administrator J.R. Perez.

    Instead, voters for Sekula-Gibbs will need to enter a "space" in place of that hyphen.

    However, common misspellings and any possible "aliases" voters might use in casting a vote for Sekula-Gibbs will already be programmed into the machine and automatically counted, Perez said. How many aliases will be determined based on whether there are any other write-in candidates as of Sept. 6.

    If Sekula-Gibbs is the only registered write-in candidate, then a voter writing in "Shelley" for the CD-22 race will be counted for Sekula-Gibbs, Perez said, as "Shelley" will be one of the pre-programmed aliases.

    However, Lampson campaign manager Mike Malaise disagreed with that assessment.

    "This is fair warning that anyone wanting to vote for a write-in candidate should try to fully write in that candidate’s name on Election Day"” Malaise said. "Misspellings are perfectly understandable, but there are many 'Shelleys' registered to vote in district 22, and they are all eligible to write their own name in for this seat. Simply writing 'Shelley', random letters, or a series of Morse Code dots and dashes will not cut it.

    "Those votes will be challenged and ultimately will not count," Malaise said. "We did not fight Tom DeLay's unethical political maneuvering just to stand aside and watch his hand-picked successor game the system in the 11th hour."

    Any write-in votes for the CD-22 race that do not match a pre-programmed alias will be looked at by a resolution board, whose function is to determine who the voter intended to vote for, Perez said.

    Spelling Sekula-Gibbs' name shouldn’t be that difficult; Perez said her name and that of other registered write-in candidates will appear on a piece of paper, separated by election race, at each voting machine.

    The elections chief also said anyone voting a straight GOP ticket will not cast a vote for Sekula-Gibbs, because the Republican Party has no official candidate in the race. A straight Republican ticket would not "trigger" a write-in vote.

Does anyone know anything more about the "resolution board?" Is this bipartisan, partisan, or nonpartisan in Texas? A blog reader, by the way, points me to Guerra v. Garza, 865 S.W.2d 573 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 1993, writ dism'd w.o.j.). Here's a snippet to show how messy Texas's voter intent standard would be if this were a very close race:
    We hold that ballots which have "Gus," "Garza," or "Gus Garza" either completely written or partly written on the County Attorney's line were properly counted for appellee because the voter's intent to vote for him is clearly ascertainable. See Tex.Elec.Code Ann. §§ 64.005 & 65.009(a), (c) (Vernon 1986); see also Fuentes, 423 S.W.2d at 426; Wright, 255 S.W. at 639. We also hold that ballots which have the surname "Garza" written anywhere else on the ballot (other than the County Attorney's line) were not properly counted for appellee because the voter's intent to vote for him is not clearly ascertainable. [FN8] We further hold that the ballots which have "Gues," "Gue," the initials "G.G.," "Gus Garcia," or "Mickey Mouse," even if written on the County Attorney's line, were not properly counted for appellee because the voter's intent to vote for him is not clearly ascertainable

Posted by Rick Hasen at August 23, 2006 09:56 PM