A countywide error that sent faulty absentee ballots to the wrong people in Sacramento county forced elections office employees to spend their Sunday hand delivering new mail-in ballots to 232 voters.
The elections office was made aware of the mistakes on the ballots when two voters called in saying that their ballots didn’t look right. Jill Levine of the county registrar of voters said that the error impacted voters “from Herald clear to Antelope and from Folsom to the Pocket area.”
According to the Sacramento Bee, this was the latest embarrassment for the county elections office, which had already sent thousands of sample ballot booklets to registered voters with omitted information. The omissions threatened the Nov. 4 election and cost taxpayers over $68,000 to fix.
The latest fiasco’s cost is undetermined, but expenses will include county staff time and mileage required to deliver the new ballots. A representative of the offending vendor, Runbeck Election Services (RES), will be helping county staff members replace old ballots with the new corrected version, but residents who do not mail in the corrected ballot will miss voting on races that weren’t on the first ballot.
“This is a great vendor,” Levine said. “We’ve used them before, and we’ve never had an issue before.”
Kevin Runbeck, the firm’s chief executive officer, explained that the problem was caused by a 30- to 40-second malfunction of both the inserter and a camera system designed to detect errors. According to the Bee, RES used to handle the insertion process for vote-by-mail ballots manually, but recently converted to a more advanced automated system.
Voting by mail exceeded 50 percent of votes cast in the general election in California for the first time in 2012. According to researcher Mindy Romero, director of the California Engagement Project at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, the June primary produced 69% of voters electing to use mail in voting ballots.