There were two unusual lines, both confusing and concerning, on Jonathan Latimer’s vote-by-mail ballot: “MAIL 6619” and “BROWN UNIVERSITY.” Neither line is part of his actual address in Middlesex County, N.J., and so Mr. Latimer, 76, who went to college in California many years ago, was concerned the erroneous and random insertions threatened to invalidate his mail-in ballot for November’s midterm elections. If the address on his ballot didn’t match the address the state had on record, he wondered, would it be counted given New Jersey’s strict vote-by-mail requirements? Turns out, Mr. Latimer is not alone. More than 43,000 vote-by-mail ballots were sent out, and the Middlesex County Clerk’s office estimated that “a large percentage of them” contained erroneous address information, though they were not able to give an exact number of affected ballots.
The clerk’s office said the problem, which came to light after ballots were sent to voters like Mr. Latimer last weekend, was due to an error “during preparation at the mail house.” All of the ballots that have problematic addresses because of the error will still be counted.
“Yes, the ballots are valid, and voters should use the materials they received,” said Cassandra Achille, the supervisor of elections in the Middlesex County Clerk’s office. “All Vote By Mail ballots received by the Board of Elections will be counted.”