Printing Error Affects Mail-In Ballots in Pennsylvania County | Pennsylvania News

By GEOFF MULVIHILL and MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press

An error by a company that prints ballots for several counties in Pennsylvania rendered thousands of mail-in ballots unreadable on Tuesday as voters decided the hotly contested primaries for governor and the U.S. Senate in one of the Most important battleground states in the country.

Officials in Lancaster County, the state’s sixth most populous, said the problem involved at least 21,000 mail-in ballots, only a third of which were properly scanned. The problem will require election workers to remake ballots that cannot be read by the machine, a laborious process that is expected to take several days. Officials in the GOP-controlled county promised that all ballots would eventually be counted.

“Citizens deserve to have accurate election results and they deserve to have them on election night, not days later,” said Josh Parsons, a Republican and vice chairman of the County Board of Commissioners, at the a press conference. “But because of that, we’re not going to have the final election results from those mail-in ballots for probably several days, so it’s very, very frustrating for us.

The Lancaster Board of Elections, of which Parsons is a member, renewed its criticism of a 2019 state voting law that expanded mail-in voting but barred counties from opening mail-in ballots before Election Day. ballot to check for errors.

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The council said the law, which was passed by the legislature with bipartisan support, also requires counties to use vendors to print ballots rather than do them in-house.

“Bill 77 is untenable for us as counties to continue to work through elections and not have issues like this,” said Ray D’Agostino, chairman of the Lancaster board of directors.

The vendor’s mistake left county officials with the task of hand-marking thousands of new ballots, a process that was scheduled to begin Wednesday morning. For ballots that will not be scanned, county election officials will recreate the voters’ choices on the blank ballots and then scan them.

Lancaster County had to use a similar process in the primaries last year due to a printing error by another vendor.

Christa Miller, chief voter registration clerk, said one election worker will read each voter’s choices, a second worker will record them on a blank ballot, and an observer will make sure the choices are correctly marked.

“Our main priority is precision, not how quickly we can do something,” she said.

County officials said the contractor, the Claysburg, Pa.-based NPC, sent county test slips with the correct ID code, but used the wrong code on those sent to voters.

NPC, which replaced the terminated vendor after last year’s error, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. D’Agostino said NPC took “full responsibility”.

The Pennsylvania State Department said it is aware of the problem in Lancaster County, which opted for Donald Trump by about 16 percentage points over Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race. Ellen Lyon said no other counties have reported similar issues.

In North Carolina, election officials were investigating delays at some polling places.

Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said officials are looking into whether problems with voting machines delayed the opening of polls in three counties — Gates, Warren and Wilson. . Officials were trying to determine whether the delays were preventing anyone from voting and whether voting hours should be extended.

“With over 2,600 polls open and the possibility of delays in three, I think that’s a pretty good batting average,” Bell said on a conference call with reporters.

North Carolina voters cast about 580,000 early ballots, the vast majority of them at in-person polling places. That’s more than twice as many early votes as in the 2018 primary.

Bell said the high turnout “is indicative, we hope, of the faith and trust of the people of North Carolina in the election officials who run the election for them.”

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