While there’s still no solution for what happened in November, when 861 voters were silenced after the post office failed to postmark absentee ballots, county elections officials are looking to a relatively tiny race in Norton to ensure they play no part in future screw-ups.
Summit County Board of Elections officials have devised a plan to determine, as quickly as possible, if votes are misplaced between the poll workers who collect them and the staff who count them. The plan, to be tested in Norton on Tuesday, involves comparing the number of ballots sent to each polling location with the number that return as either voted, voided or set aside as provisional ballots, which are counted after workers check voter eligibility.
In previous elections, county officials have used a less precise method of matching the number of signatures on precinct sign-in sheets.
In November, however, three ballots got stuck in a bag and were never counted by county elections staff. The error was overlooked because poll workers allowed at least three people to vote without signing in. The numbers offset each other, masking the mistake and indicated the potential for future human error.
“It was one of those perfect storms where it was missed on our end and missed on their end,” said Paula Sauter, deputy director of the Summit County Board of Elections.