Voting Machine Irregularities Claimed in Two Border County Democrat Primaries
by Bob Price on March 22, 2014 at 10:43 AM
Claims of voting machine irregularities have been made to county election officials in two Democrat Primaries in Hidalgo and El Paso Counties following the 2014 Joint Primary Election.
In Hidalgo County, The McAllen Monitor reports that at least twelve candidates from the March 4th Democrat Primary to the County Commissioners’ Court have requested the County launch a forensic audit of the voting machines used in the election. In one of the letters obtained by Breitbart Texas dated March 12th, it was alleged, “…that numerous inconsistencies and discrepancies have appeared in our analysis of each candidate’s races. We therefore ask that a forensic expert inspect each voting machine to ensure that they have not malfunctioned or been subjected to fraud or tampering.” The Commissioners’ Court declined to address the issue during their regular Tuesday morning session according to local reports. However, two hours after the meeting an announcement was made that there would be a special meeting Friday to consider the issue, according to The Monitor.
One of the letters was signed by ten candidates who are running for various local judicial and state representative offices. Two other candidates sent individual letters. Copies of the three letters plus an additional letter from Martin Golando, an attorney for the twelve candidates were obtained by Breitbart Texas and are attached at the bottom of this article.
The letters from the candidates were not specific as to the allegations of irregularities. The letters contain phrases like “numerous inconsistencies and discrepancies” or “rumblings of irregularities.”
The Golando letter, however, was more specific in the accusations of irregularities.
Golando states in his letter that he has been approached by the 12 candidates to take immediate legal action in pursuing immediate relief.
“Individual voters have indicated that in casting their vote using Hidalgo County’s voting machines, their vote for a particular candidate was changed by the voting machine; this happened repeatedly throughout the county,” Golando stated in the letter.
“Others have complained that the total votes reported by the machines exceeded the total of voters that actually voted.” Golando continued.
Golando claims there are allegations that the County was negligent in allowing an employee with intimate knowledge of how the machines work may have had access to these voting machines while they were also working for political campaigns. Golando’s letter claims, “This employee had access to the county’s information technology department inclusive of information and resources. Also, we have evidence that this particular employee admitted to manipulating the 2006 election results. A county employee with access to voting machines that can be manipulated while working on individual campaigns strains the public’s faith in the political process.”
The Golando letter details the history of the previous complaints about the county employee as will as reported complaints from the past about the reliability of the type of machine used by Hidalgo County.
In a response to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas, Hidalgo County Public Information Specialist, Hilda Salinas said the county has no official response at this time. However, she included a portion of the special meeting set for Friday to discuss this matter. The agenda item reads:
Discussion, consideration and action to engage a vendor for the purpose of reviewing and conducting a forensic analysis of Hidalgo County election hardware/equipment and software used in the 2014 March Primary, in an amount not to exceed $50K through a purchase order.
The special meeting of the Commissioner’s Court will be held Friday, March 21st, at 1:30 p.m. at the Edinburg City Hall, 412 W. University, in Edinburg Texas.
In El Paso County, the El Paso Times reports one woman complained that one of the state representative candidates that she voted for did not appear on the voting summary screen that is available for a voter to review prior to casting their votes.
The Times article says the woman, Irene Borunda, alleges she cast a vote for State Representative Naomi Gonzalez, but when the review page came up, the House District 76 race did not appear on the screen. She further claims the same thing happened to her grandmother.
Rep. Gonzales told the Times that her office had received complaints, including from her own family members.
Breitbart Texas spoke with El Paso County Elections Administrator Javier Chacon who said in a telephone interview, “We have only received the one complaint.” He indicated he did not believe Borunda’s statement is accurate. He explained the Dominion Touch-Screen machines used by the County have been thoroughly tested before and after the election for accuracy. As to Borunda’s claim, Chacon said, “The review screen is a very long page. The District 76 race appears way down on the page and you would have to scroll down to it to see it.”
Chacon explained there are different arrows on the touch-screen to either scroll down the page or to move forward and cast your vote. Once the vote has been cast, there is no way to see how an individual voted on a specific race. He said that during his conversation with Borunda, he got the impression she had not scrolled down the page to where the particular race she was concerned about would have appeared.
Chacon responded to a question about what a voter should do if they believe a particular vote is not being recorded properly by saying, “The voter should ensure, by reviewing the review page thoroughly, that all of the choices made by the voter are properly reflected on the review page prior to casting the vote.”
“If it doesn’t appear to be accurate,” he continued, “the voter should go back to the page where that particular race appears and make certain their choice is properly selected.” Chacon explained that if the voter is not confident their vote is being accurately reflected by the machine, they should ask the election officials for assistance prior to actually casting the ballot. “Once the ballot has been cast by the machine, it cannot be reviewed or changed,” Chacon stated.
Rep. Gonzales was eliminated from a runoff spot in the May 27th Primary Runoff election by 161 votes.