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Ohio elections board identifies nearly 50,000 incorrect absentee ballots

Officials are working to send voters corrected ballots

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

An Ohio county board of elections found that nearly 50,000 voters received incorrect absentee ballots this week, accounting for nearly 21% of the ballots mailed out.

"We can now confirm that 49,669 voters received an incorrect ballot," the Franklin County Board of Elections said Friday. According to a press release statement from the board, the incorrect ballots were mailed as part of 237,498 ballots mailed through the U.S. Postal Service.

The election board has begun printing and mailing replacement ballots to every voter who received an erroneous ballot. They expect the ballots to be sent to the postal service within 72 hours for delivery.

There is also a plan to mail informational postcards to all impacted voters alerting them of the problem and instructing them on how to submit a corrected ballot.

"We want to make clear that every voter who received an inaccurate ballot will receive a corrected ballot," the board said. "Stringent tracking measures are in place to guarantee that a voter can only cast one vote."

Steps taken to ensure that each voter only votes once include "sorting systems" that will "drop out and not accept any replacement ballots that are submitted if a voter has already voted in person." Additionally, voters who have an active absentee ballot but show up to vote in person on Election Day "MUST vote provisionally." Provisional ballots are not counted until the eligibility of a voter to cast that ballot is verified.

On Tuesday, as early voting began in Ohio, several residents of Franklin County began reporting that their envelopes and ballots contained incorrect information, such as the wrong precinct or congressional race, WOSU reports.

Election officials say a malfunction with one of their high-speed scanners used to process ballots caused the error.

"On October 3 at 2:24 p.m., a function of one of those scanners was disabled," election board director Ed Leonard said Thursday. "This was determined to be the root cause of the system error that led to voters receiving an incorrect ballot."

The board now says the scanner is repaired and an investigation has been started into BlueCrest, the vendor of the scanners.

WOSU reports that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has instructed the state elections board to hold onto incorrect ballots received until a correct replacement ballot is submitted. If a replacement ballot is never submitted, the original must be "processed, remade, and scanned on or after the 11th day after the election."

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