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Franklin County reissues nearly 50,000 ballots after debacle

Franklin County reissues nearly 50,000 ballots after debacle

NADINE RICHARDSON

The Franklin County Board of Elections mailed out nearly 50,000 replacement ballots earlier this week, correcting a technical error that resulted in thousands of Columbus-area voters recieving potentially incorrect ballots last week, the Columbus Dispatch reports. 

The ballots, according to the Associated Press, had incorrect congressional races printed or were sent to voters in the wrong precinct. County election officials also later said that “some” of the ballots may have been correct, but did not specify how many, according to the Dispatch

“We want to make it clear that every voter who received an inaccurate ballot will receive a corrected ballot,” the Board said in a press release Friday. “Stringent tracking measures are in place to guarantee that a voter can only cast one vote.” 

Aaron Sellers, speaking on behalf of the Board, told the Dispatch that about 28,000 ballots were delivered to Citygate Drive Post Office Monday evening and about 22,000 were sent by Tuesday afternoon. Franklin County voters should have begun receiving their replacement ballots on Wednesday. 

The Board tweeted instructions on Tuesday for the 49,669 voters who had received mistaken ballots. It encouraged voters to “immediately discard” their original ballots and to complete the replacements with the new envelope provided by the County, even if they had already cast their mistaken ballots. The social media post reiterated that only one ballot would be counter per voter. 

The incident comes days after early voting in the state began on Oct. 6 and less than three weeks before Election Day. The mishap is one of many recent early voting issues in the state, including a Monday report from the Toledo Blade that found Lucas County was struggling to confirm the status of nearly 70,000 absentee ballots mailed to voters. 

Franklin County’s error also drew national attention Friday, as President Donald Trump criticized the mistake on Twitter, calling it “Out of Control” and an example of the “Rigged Election!!!” In response, the Board tweeted back, “Mr. President, it certainly was a serious mistake, but a serious mistake that we’re working hard to make right. Our board is bipartisan and our elections are fair. And every vote will be counted.” 

While the individual responsible for the error has yet to be identified, Board officials have said the mistake resulted from an inadvertent change to the settings of a device which puts absentee ballots into envelopes, according to the Dispatch. The technical error has since been corrected.  

The Board has published a replacement ballot notice, including a document that lists the names of those who received ballots processed under the faulty system. Voters on the list can either wait to receive their new ballots in the mail or travel to the Franklin County Board of Elections office on Morse Road for in-person early voting, Board officials said. Ohioans can track the status of their ballots on the Ohio Secretary of State website.  

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