Elections in the Queen City have been plagued by several glitches of late, but city officials are hoping for smoother sailing this Town Meeting Day. In October, the clerk/treasurer’s office, which is charged with overseeing the city’s elections, temporarily stopped early voting after accidentally leaving five of 15 Republican candidates for justice of the peace off the ballot. It had to reprint ballots — a $10,000 mistake. Then, roughly two weeks before the election, the office discovered that 87 voters in a New North End housing development had been listed in the wrong district. In 2012, the office misprinted a tax rate on ballots. There have been other snafus, too. The upcoming election on March 3 is a big one — due to redistricting, all the city councilors and school commissioners, in addition to the mayor, are up for reelection. After the ballot misprints, Mayor Miro Weinberger declared, “These avoidable and costly errors must end,” and he asked his chief administrative officer, Bob Rusten, to draft a plan to make that happen. Rusten presented it to the city council on Tuesday.
For the most part, the plan reads like a manual in common sense. The solution for misprinted ballots: proofreading. The clerk/treasurer’s office already had multiple people reviewing the ballots before they were printed, according to Rusten. Now they’ve got even more, and they will also send the ballots to political parties for review in advance. (Republicans caught the mistake with the justices of the peace.)
The fix for placing people in the wrong voting districts: The office will conduct a computerized audit one month ahead of time make sure people have been assigned to the proper districts and wards.
The report also noted that the clerk/treasurer’s office has failed to submit voting results to the Vermont Secretary of State’s office on time but said they’ve worked out an agreement with state officials that will make it easier for them to meet the legal requirement.