Here’s how the Republic party can win this election: by cutting off the names of their opponents. Inadvertently, of course.
U.S. Senate candidate James Webb’s last name has been cut off on part of the electronic ballot used by voters in Alexandria, Falls Church and Charlottesville because of a computer glitch that also affects other candidates with long names, city officials said yesterday.
Although the problem creates some voter confusion, it will not cause votes to be cast incorrectly, election officials emphasized. The error shows up only on the summary page, where voters are asked to review their selections before hitting the button to cast their votes. Webb’s full name appears on the page where voters choose for whom to vote.
Election officials attribute the mistake to an increase in the type size on the ballot. Although the larger type is easier to read, it also unintentionally shortens the longer names on the summary page of the ballot.
Thus, Democratic candidate Webb will appear with his first name and nickname only — or “James H. ‘Jim’ ” — on summary pages in Alexandria, Falls Church and Charlottesville, the only jurisdictions in Virginia that use balloting machines manufactured by Hart InterCivic of Austin.
What state is Austin in?
Still, as long as you have a name shorter than James H. Webb, you’re fine. Say, if your name is George Allen.
Every candidate on Alexandria’s summary page has been affected in some way by the glitch. Even if candidates’ full names appear, as is the case with Webb’s Republican opponent, incumbent Sen. George F. Allen, their party affiliations have been cut off.
Well, that’s comforting. Allen’s hurt as much by not being announced as a Republican as Webb is by not having his last name appear. So at least it’s fair.
Election officials in Alexandria said they have been vexed by the problem since they purchased the voting machines in 2003. Although the problem has raised eyebrows among confused voters, elections officials said they are confident that the trouble has not led voters to cast ballots incorrectly.
And Virginia, Senator Macaca’s state, is, as you would expect, on top of the problem.
Jean Jensen, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections, who said yesterday she only recently became aware of the problem, pledged to have it fixed by the 2007 statewide elections.
“You better believe it,” Jensen said. “If I have to personally get on a plane and bring Hart InterCivic people here myself, it’ll be corrected.”
That’s the spirit. Don’t let this kind of thing slide for more a couple of elections before you promise to get it fixed.