The ballot sent out to absentee voters in Hinds County has complicated what many say is an already confusing voting process. According to the sample ballot approved in September by the governor and secretary of state, the two proposed constitutional amendments should be clearly differentiated on the ballot. The options for voters who vote to change the state constitution should read “FOR Initiative Measure No. 42” and “FOR Alternative Measure No. 42 A,” the two dueling education initiatives. However, the ballot sent to absentee voters in Hinds County leaves out the last “A” in “FOR Alternative Measure 42 A,” leading to concerns that voters intending to vote for Initiative 42 could accidentally vote for Initiative 42A instead. 525 ballots have been sent out to Hinds County voters as of Tuesday, according to the circuit clerk’s office.
Sacramento County plans to hire a consultant to review its elections office following complaints from city clerks about the handling of last year’s elections. As reported by The Sacramento Bee last month, current and former clerks in Sacramento, Galt and Rancho Cordova said the elections office had become less reliable in the past 18 months. The office published inaccurate information about contests in Sacramento and Rancho Cordova in sample ballot guides and provided Galt’s clerk with wrong information about the ballot order of council races, among other things.
It won’t be until after the 2016 general election that a revamped, more modern election management and voter registration system is fully implemented in New Mexico, according to the state’s top election officials. The Secretary of State’s Office briefed lawmakers on its progress during a meeting this week in Albuquerque. The agency already has updated the candidate filing system and streamlined the reporting of election results, but work has yet to start on revamping voter registration. Kari Fresquez, head of the state Elections Bureau and the agency’s chief technology officer, said creating a one-stop shop for voters and integrating the numerous separate systems used by county clerks across the state marks the biggest step in the modernization process.
California: Santa Clara County: Print shop flub compounds ballot error in two school board races | San Jose Mercury News
A flub on sample ballots for two school board races that were mailed to thousands of voters in Santa Clara and Gilroy was compounded when the printing vendor sent out official ballots repeating the error. In addition, most residents in the Santa Clara Unified and Gavilan Community College districts have yet to receive the correct ballots because the vendor didn’t send them out last week with the other vote-by-mail ballots throughout the county. The initial error, which cropped up just over two weeks ago, involved a mistake at the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters that resulted in sample ballots going out which omitted some candidates and their statements. “That was a programming error on our part in the election database,” said Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey.
Burlington has suspended early voting for the Nov. 4 election because of a ballot error and will print new ballots at a cost of about $10,000, the city announced Monday. Five of the 15 Republican nominees for justice of the peace had been left off the ballot. “I am disappointed that, for the second time in two years, the City finds itself in the position of having to correct a ballot,” Mayor Miro Weinberger said in a statement. “These avoidable and costly errors must end.” In a statement, the city Clerk/Treasurer’s Office apologized for the error, which it said was inadvertent. Sample ballots available on the city website Monday included 10 Republican nominees, 15 Democratic nominees and two Libertarian nominees. Voters may select up to 15 people to serve as justices of the peace.
Clerks around Wisconsin from both parties have modified the state’s model ballots for the Nov. 4 elections, raising questions about both the state officials who designed the ballots and about a GOP lawsuit aimed at forcing a costly reprinting of ballots. Clerks from both parties, including at least three Democrats, have found the model ballots confusing, showing that the concerns over them aren’t limited to the Republicans who have sued over the issue. Checks by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday found that most of the state’s urban areas will be using ballots that are more clearly marked for voters than the Government Accountability Board’s model ballot. The biggest exception is in Wausau. Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said Friday he had refused to use the ballot that state elections officials had recommended for this fall out of concerns that it was too confusing. Rock County Clerk Lori Stottler said she had similar concerns that the ballot put forward by the accountability board didn’t clearly distinguish for voters between the candidates on the ballot and the offices they were seeking. And La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer said she added shading to the ballots to make them clearer. “We try to make the ballot as accessible and easy to read, and that’s why I put the shading in,” she said.
If you think it’s hard to understand ballot measures when they’re written in English, consider the translations into Yup’ik prepared by the Alaska Division of Elections. Walkie Charles, an assistant professor of Native languages at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, spent 30 minutes trying to decipher a translated 2010 ballot measure proposing a law to combat corruption. He gave up on the version given to Yup’ik voters by the state and went to the original English to figure it out. “I have spoken Yup’ik my entire life, I teach it, write papers about it, and speak it almost daily. I should be able to review this ballot and understand it with ease. In fact, I had to ask for a copy of the English version to compare and try to discern the meaning of it,” Charles wrote in a report. Charles is expected to be a key witness in the U.S. Voting Rights Act lawsuit brought last July by four Native villages and two western Alaska elders against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, the state’s top election official, and three members of the Elections Division he supervises. Because it involves elections, the case has been moving quickly for a civil matter and is scheduled for trial June 23 in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.
Every election department (and many advocacy groups) create flyers and small booklets to help voters learn about elections. But when we looked for guidelines for good communication with voters, we found very little. There were some political science and social psychology experiments that measured the impact of get-out-the-vote campaigns, but there was little about what questions voters have, and how to answer those questions well. As a companion to the research on county election websites, we did a study of how new voters used election information booklets. We recruited people who had voted for the first time in the 2008 election or later. Our participants were young people, recently naturalized citizens, and people with lower literacy. As new voters, we hoped that they would remember their first experiences clearly and would still have questions about elections.
Voters won’t have the chance to decide if a 3/8-cent sales tax is the right way to improve the streets of Ozark. Due to a clerical error, the sales tax proposal that city officials have played up at public meetings and on the city’s official website won’t be part of the April election. “I didn’t get to approve the final ballots, and it was printed without (the tax proposal),” City Clerk Lana Wilson said. The mix-up marks the second botched ballot case in Ozark for this election. Last month, the city filed a lawsuit in circuit court to fix a mistake with a shortened term in Ward III. After a Friday evening board of aldermen vote and a quick fax from County Clerk Kay Brown, an uncontested race made it onto ballots in Ward III, but the sales tax for streets proposal is missing from ballots in all three wards. “When I got the sample ballot, it didn’t have the alderman for Ward III on it, plus it didn’t have the sales tax. I assumed that (Brown) would send me the original to approve,” Wilson said.
City and county election officials are imploring Malibu voters to stick to their county-issued voting materials when they mark their ballots after it was discovered that numbers in Santa Monica-issued materials did not correspond to Malibu ballots. The problem is confined to two voting groups in Malibu who participate in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District election. Vote-by-mail ballots include a voter guide that shows the names of candidates or measures and a corresponding number. To vote for that candidate or measure, a voter bubbles in an oval next to the number that indicates their choice.
Registrars and moderators for the Oct. 26 special election for treasurer and the Nov. 6 general election tested the town’s four voting machines Friday afternoon at Samuel Staples Elementary School. Sample ballots marked for individual candidates were fed into the machines, which counted the ballots and tabulated vote totals and then were checked for accuracy. “We prepare test ballots and feed them all in to make sure the machines are accurately reading votes, there are different levels of security,” said Ron Kowalski, the Democratic registrar.
Connecticut: Sample ballots in Connecticut list candidates in no particular order | The Middletown Press
Sample ballots were sent to town election administrators Monday and, in anticipation of a state Supreme Court ruling, the candidates on those ballots were in no particular order. The same day, attorneys for the Republican Party of Connecticut and the Secretary of the State’s office issued arguments for and against the contention that a lawsuit brought by the GOP should not have made it to the Supreme Court. That lawsuit is causing a delay on the final order of candidates for Election Day ballots. The GOP took Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to court after she decided Democrats should get the top ballot line. Republicans say state law dictates otherwise.
Some states want their voters to take ID cards to the polls. In New York City, you may want to bring a magnifying glass. Voters who trekked to the polls for Thursday’s primary races were handed ballots with candidates’ names printed in an eye-straining 7-point type, akin to the ingredient list on the side of a cereal box. Now the city Board of Elections is facing outsize criticism over the mite-size font. Civic groups and lawmakers are calling for reform. And some voters are wondering why the instructions on the ballot were displayed in larger and clearer typefaces than the names of the candidates and the offices they were running for. “I just stood and squinted,” recalled Elinore Kaplan, a semiretired teacher in Manhattan, who said she was upset and disappointed to have so much trouble ensuring she voted for the person she wanted to vote for. “It shouldn’t be a challenge,” she said of the ballot’s design. “It should be an invitation.”
Nearly 14 weeks after the April Municipal Elections in Anchorage, yet another shoe has dropped in connection with that flawed election day. On Wednesday of this week, 141 sample ballots were discovered in a vault in Anchorage City Hall. As of publication, no one knows if those votes were counted in the election. In a way, the matter is academic. 141 votes will not alter the outcome of any race or ballot-proposition from April 3rd. The closest vote on any matter before the public that day was decided by a margin of at least 3,000 people. But the new revelation does add to the embarrassment of the city. Already, a city clerk — and a deputy city clerk — have lost their jobs over this issue. Today (Saturday) Ernie Hall, the Chairman of the City Assembly, said that preliminary indications are that the latest irregularity may be connected with the confusion of election day.
Idaho: Elections were legit, officials say – ballot mistake did not compromise process | Idaho Mountain Express
A printer’s error and a misplaced poll log left some voters wondering about the validity of the Ketchum city election last week, but county election officials say the process was not compromised. Rick Martin, a Buhl resident and campaign manager for Republican Precinct 8 Committeeman Scott Shane, said he was able to print “legal” ballots off of the Blaine County website before the election on May 15. “Someone had posted on the [county website] the PDF for all 16 Blaine County ballots,” Martin said in an interview last week. “I was able to print legal ballots.” The county posts sample ballots on its website, so voters can view the ballots ahead of time. Typically, these ballots state that they are samples, so that no one would mistake them for ballots that would be able to be cast.
Alaska: Anchorage Election Commission finds 1/2 of precincts ran out of ballots; recommends no investigation | adn.com
A review by the Anchorage Election Commission found that more than half of city precincts ran out of ballots in the trouble-plagued April 3 elections, according to a report unveiled today. The commission is not, however, recommending a third-party investigation into the election or a new election. “All indications are that ballot shortages for (certain ballot types) were the result of unintended error on the part of the Clerk’s Office,” the report concludes. “While this created chaos during the final hours of the mayoral election, the problem did not meet the standards of malconduct, fraud or reckless indifference on the part of anyone involved.”
Florida: Dominion says Elections Office should have known how to use the election software, avoiding errors in Wellington election | Sun-Sentinel.com
Palm Beach County elections officials could have averted a software glitch that erroneously awarded two Wellington Village Council seats to losing candidates if they had followed the instruction manual, the manufacturer has told state election officials. Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher vehemently denied the claim. “I read the reference guide three times yesterday,” she said. “Nowhere does it tell you to check for this, ever.” Even as the question of who is to blame grew murkier, a clearer picture of the error itself emerged Monday, with the company, Dominion Voting Systems, sending out a national advisory warning election officials how to avoid a similar mistake. In the advisory, Dominion also suggests that the mistake could have been caught before the election had one key test been performed differently. The so-called “synchronization” error was caused when Bucher’s central vote-counting software was lined up to accept races in a different order than they appeared on the Wellington ballot. As a result, election-night totals on Wellington’s three races were shifted in a circle – with village council Seat 4 votes going to the mayor’s race, votes for mayor going to council Seat 1, and votes for Seat 1 going to Seat 4. On Monday, Bucher said the error occurred when her staff entered the titles on the ballot of each position, such as “Seat 1.”
Maryland: Baltimore mayoral candidate calls for media campaign to educate voters about correct primary date after sample ballot error | baltimoresun.com
Baltimore mayoral candidate and state Sen. Catherine Pugh called Thursday for city officials to launch a media campaign to educate residents about the correct date for the Democratic primary after sample ballots mailed to voters listed the wrong one. Pugh said that the city should have the correct date — Tuesday, Sept. 13 — on a banner running on every show broadcast by its cable station and resend the entire corrected sample ballot.
“Please engage in corrective action that will inform the public of what this date is and, more importantly, the mistake that has been made,” she said during a news conference.
The error on one part of the 2011 Official Primary Sample Ballot incorrectly stated that the primary is on Saturday, Sept. 3 — an early voting date. The date was printed correctly in other places on the ballot.