A Michigan County Clerk says he “bungled” election ballots when he sent out 14,000 unreadable ballots then 14,000 more duplicate ballots to voters in Genesee County, Michigan. How inept can our government be? We want and deserve better than this!
About 14,000 Genesee County voters were mailed a second absentee ballot this month after officials discovered deformities and irregularities in an initial printing run that made many ballots unreadable by voting machines.
A mass reprint ordered by Genesee County Clerk John Gleason has prompted the state to step in with guidance on how to minimize voter confusion and ensure that each vote will count — but not twice.
“Everything is on track now,” said Gleason, a Democrat. “There was a lot of thought that went into this process, a lot of discussion and good dialogue, and I think the recovery happened really fast for what the situation was.”
The Genesee County ballot snafu comes as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continues to raise concerns about potential voter fraud and has refused to say whether he will honor the results of the Nov. 8 election if he loses.
Trump may find fodder for his “reckless” accusations in Genesee County, said former Flushing Mayor Archie Bailey, a Democrat who argued in an online newsletter that the county’s election system “is not rigged” but “bungled beyond belief.”
Gleason blames the faulty ballots on “a sloppy job” by the company that printed them, which he has declined to name. He said many ballots were skewed, not centered properly, smudged, flecked or had other problems.
But election clerks in 22 municipalities had already sent those ballots to voters. Those who received them have since been mailed a replacement ballot, identified by a green number at the bottom.
The first batch of ballots were not sent to voters in Flint or Burton, the county’s largest cities, which “saved a lot of confusion in those communities,” Gleason said.
Local clerks in affected municipalities will likely have a long night on Nov. 8.
Under a process recommended by the Michigan Bureau of Elections, returned replacement ballots will be processed as usual after polls close at 8 p.m. while the corresponding originals will be marked as spoiled. If a voter returns only an original, clerks and their staff will duplicate those votes onto new ballots that can then be fed into a voting machine.
“It’s a tremendous amount of work,” Gleason said. “It’s routine work, but it’s enhanced this year because of the complete reprinting.”
Mistakes should have been caught
Gleason and Genesee County should have discovered the printing flaws before they sent any absentee ballots to local clerks, said Bailey, who previously served on the county board of commissioners.
He predicted “a whole lot” of losing candidates are going to challenge Genesee County results in the wake of the Nov. 8 election.
Read more: Detroit News