A pallet of about 130,000 printed Oneida County election ballots with the incorrect spelling for the name of the president of the United States is sitting in a print shop in Albany. The cost: about $75,000. The cost to print the corrected ballots: about the same. County Executive Anthony Picente learned of the print job Friday amid a public dispute with the county Board of Elections over an apparent $115,000 budget shortfall in the department.
Asked earlier by a reporter why the $115,000 transfer was needed, Republican Elections Commissioner Pamela Mandryck had pointed to the fact that a new, separate congressional primary had been called unexpectedly for 2012 by a federal judge. Asked later about the incorrect ballots, Mandryck said she hadn’t gotten the bill from the printer and didn’t know about the additional cost.
Sample ballots on the county Board of Elections web page about two weeks ago had spelled President Barack Obama’s first name without the “C.” When an O-D reporter contacted Mandryck following a tip, she was unaware of the problem, but quickly got off the phone to see if she could fix it.
A few days later, Mandryck sent out a press release stating that “correctly formatted ballots are with the printer and the official ballots are being generated for use in the upcoming election.” But Picente said the printer said the incorrect ballots had been printed, and the county had to pay.