Published October 26, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas – After all the early campaign banter about how names of the independent candidates for governor would appear on the ballot, some Texas voters won't even see the full name when double-checking their choices.
The summary portion of the electronic ballot chops off names longer than about 15 letters, so voters choosing Kinky Friedman see "Richard 'Kinky' F." Carole Keeton Strayhorn becomes "Carole Keeton St." And Texas' senior senator? Just call her "Kay Bailey Hutch."
The problem won't be fixed before the election, but voting machine manufacturer Hart InterCivic Inc. eSlate, and local officials, stressed that every candidate's name appears correctly on the voting screen, the Austin American-Statesman reported Thursday.
The glitch occurs only on the last screen, when voters are given the option to see a summary of their choices.
The votes are not affected and still count, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said. But it does require additional voter diligence.
For instance, if voters want to double-check that they've picked the Republican or Democrat of their choice, it won't be obvious from the summary screen. A voter would have to know that "William E. 'Bill' " is Democrat Bill Moody, a Supreme Court Place 2 candidate. The summary screen doesn't list party affiliation.
The cutoff of names is frustrating for election officials, DeBeauvoir said.
"I don't like it. We've been asking the vendor to address this issue for a couple of years now," she said.
The names are cut off because of the size of the letters on-screen, Hart InterCivic Vice President Phillip Braithwaite said.
Friedman's campaign said he was not aware of the situation because he voted by paper ballot, but spokeswoman Laura Stromberg said the campaign doesn't expect it to matter.
"Everyone knows him as Kinky," she said.
A spokesman for Strayhorn said that "Carole Keeton St" could actually help the campaign in Austin, where voters are familiar with Dean Keeton Street, the road near the University of Texas campus named for Strayhorn's late father.
"It's Dean Keeton looking down and helping his daughter one more time," spokesman Mark Sanders said.
The Strayhorn campaign failed in its well-publicized effort to get "Grandma" added as her nickname on the ballot, arguing that she had been known by that moniker for years. She sued Secretary of State Roger Williams after his office ruled that "Grandma" was a slogan, not a nickname, but eventually dropped the lawsuit.
Williams allowed "Kinky" on the ballot because Friedman has been known by that name for decades.
Hart introduced its eSlate electronic voting machine in 2000. It's used by about 100 Texas counties and in other states.
In Travis and Hays counties, local officials said the screen has cut off names in previous cycles but it hasn't been an issue with voters.
Ashley Burton, a spokeswoman for the Texas secretary of state's office, said each county had been given the option to reduce the font size on the screen, so the whole name appears, but that it might make it harder for voters to read.
Because Travis and Hays counties use an older version of the eSlate machine, that's not an option.