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Pennsylvania County Makes Massive Ballot Mistake, Voters Have To Vote Again

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, officials are scrambling after around 20,000 voters received ballots with errors on them. Now, those voters may have to vote again.

And it is not an isolated incident as this marks the third time in as many years that the county has mailed inaccurate ballots, WGAL reported. Some of the voters who had already cast their ballots received emails from the county telling them of the issue.

“Your ballot status has been updated to cancelled because a replacement ballot has been issued. If you have questions about your ballot, please contact LANCASTER County at (717) 299-8293,” part of the email said.

“Several viewers contacted News 8 On Your Side asking if the email was a scam. It’s not. The board of elections said the error involves the Superior Court race. Voters were told to only select one candidate when they should be able to choose two. Before that error was discovered, 18,554 ballots were processed to be mailed to voters. Those ballots are being recalled from post offices, and corrected ballots are being sent out,” WGAL reported.

“Everyone who got mailed a ballot, whether they got it or not, is going to get a replacement ballot. Everybody who requests a mail-in ballot for this election will have something called a replacement ballot. It will say ‘replacement’ on it. If you have a ballot that doesn’t say ‘replacement,’ please discard it. You will get a replacement ballot,” County Commissioner John Trescot said to the news network.

The new ballots will have corrected language and color-coded instructions.

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“Our concern here is that people will receive that first ballot, fill it out, send it back, think they’ve done their civic duty, and then when they receive that replacement ballot in a week or two, they will think it’s junk mail or a scam, and throw it in the trash, and their (first ballot) won’t be counted,” Democrat committee member Erin Gibson said to LancasterOnline.

Lancaster Online reported:

In last year’s primary, elections officials discovered an error that was attributed to ballot printing vendor NPC, based in Claysburg. The company accepted responsibility for the error, which affected the bar codes on about 16,000 ballots that prevented them from being properly scanned. The error forced elections officials to manually copy votes onto new ballots. 

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Lancaster County officials subsequently worked with NPC on procedures to better flag errors before printing, a step that helped convince the board of commissioners to keep working with NPC.

In 2021, Lancaster County ended its contract with Michigan Election Resources — now known as Plerus — and began seeking more than $23,000 in damages from the company after printing errors made thousands of ballots unscannable by elections office machines. County staff had to spend four days copying 12,630 mail ballots by hand.

Hundreds of voters cast their ballots in the wrong races during the November midterms after election officials provided erroneous updates to voter lists in Nashville, Tennessee. According to the Associated Press, more than 430 Tennessee voters were affected when officials did not follow the correct steps to make sure voting lists were accurate, a state elections coordinator noted in a review that was released in January.

The AP noted that a report from state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins blamed “human error” as the principal cause of the problem in Music City. Officials with the Davidson County Election Commission confirmed that more than 3,000 voters were assigned to one or more districts that were incorrect, and hundreds of voters cast their ballots before the issue was discovered.

The AP noted further:

The contests affected included state legislative races and congressional races, in which Republican state lawmakers had just carved the left-leaning city three ways during once-a-decade redistricting early this year, cutting in and out of some neighborhoods. Republicans ultimately succeeded in their map-drawing push to flip a Democratic seat, contributing to the GOP takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Goins’ report says the root cause of the issues was that Nashville election officials made updates to voter files after the city’s IT GIS division had used geocoding, a computerized process to compare voter addresses to new district boundaries.

Geocoding can be done multiple times in the process, the report says, and the commission did not verify its changes through a final round of geocoding by the IT GIS division, which a commission staff member declined to have done in March after election officials had made thousands more manual edits.

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