Fixing the ballot blunder, human error not ruled out

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Franklin County elections officials are working to determine why a “significant number” of voters received the wrong absentee ballots.

According to Ed Leonard, Franklin County Board of Elections Director, a scanner was disabled on what he explained as a “high-speed automated production system.” The scanner is supposed to ensure the ballots are placed in the correct envelopes.

“BlueCrest, our system vendor, was able to confirm that on October 3, at 2:24 p.m., a function of one of those scanners was disabled,” said Leonard. “We are working with the vendor still to determine what caused that setting to be disabled.”

Officials are not ruling out the possibility of human-error as a contributing factor to the machine malfunctioning, and they said they believe the situation was not caused by any criminal wrongdoing.

“We have no indication or belief that anything nefarious was done,” said David Payne, the Deputy Director of the Board of Elections.

Officials tell NBC4 that the machine is now working properly and safeguards are in place to prevent this from happening again. The board has no plans to put a new machine in place of the current one for future elections.

“Right now, we are trying to mitigate the situation,” said Payne. “There will always be after action plans, but right now we are going to make sure that all the voters that received an incorrect ballot receive a replacement ballot.”

The board of elections has yet to disclose how many voters received the wrong ballots, and is working to replace the ones that were mailed incorrectly.

“The board has a process and procedures in place to reissue a replacement ballot to voters that have received an incorrect original ballot,” said Payne.

If a voter does not want to wait for their replacement ballot, they can vote early at the Franklin County Board of Elections but the board told voters on Thursday a new ballot will be coming.

“Let me assure you, no vote will be counted twice and every voter will receive an accurate ballot and that ballot will be counted,” said Ed Leonard, Director, Franklin County Board of Elections.

If a voter would turn in the old ballot and not send in the corrected ballot or vote in person, that ballot will be counted post-election.

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