Printing glitch means ‘two-thirds’ of mail-in ballots won’t be scanned: Lancaster County officials [update] | PA power and politics

A “significant number” of mail-in ballots issued to voters in Lancaster County cannot be scanned due to a printing error, county commissioners announced at midday Tuesday.

The problem was discovered after 7 a.m. when the pre-investigation process began, that is, the process of opening and scanning the ballots. Some ballots printed by mail-in ballot vendor, NPC, had the wrong ID code, according to a county news release. The error caused the ballots to not be read by the vote scanners.

At a 1 p.m. news conference at the Lancaster County Building, officials estimated that about two-thirds of the 21,000 mail-in ballots received so far from voters are affected by the error.

They said around 28,000 ballots in total were mailed to voters who requested them. Voters have until 8 p.m. tonight to return their ballots to the county election office.

The incorrect printing occurred after county elections staff endorsed NPC test ballots with the correct identification code, the commissioners said in the statement. The test slips had been scanned correctly.

A similar issue in a previous election led the county to lay off a former supplier.

“These types of errors are unacceptable and we hold suppliers accountable,” the commissioners said in the press release.

All affected ballots will be noticed and scanned, the commissioners said, which is the process used last year when a similar error occurred.

Commissioner Josh Parsons said the process of repairing and counting the affected ballots “likely will take several days”.

error 2021

A year ago, more than half of all mail-in ballots sent to voters contained an error. Then-supplier Michigan Election Resources printed multiple-sheet ballots in the wrong order, making them impossible to scan by county vote-counting machines.

Before this error was discovered, approximately 2,700 voters were alerted that some had received incorrect voting instructions stating that they did not need to pay postage. Additionally, approximately 100 voters in the Marietta and Mount Joy areas received incorrect return envelopes intended for another voter, causing voters to void their ballots and receive new ones.

To resolve the majority of problematic ballots last year, teams of workers began marking replacement ballots on the Friday after the primary. At the time, teams of three workers – one reading the selections on an incorrectly printed slip, another recording those on a correct slip, and an observer checking the work – were used to carry out the laborious process.

About 12,000 ballots were hand-marked during this process, which took county elections staff about four days.

Pointing fingers

Despite the fact that the error in scanning mail-in ballots was entirely the fault of the print provider, Parsons and fellow Republican Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said the real fault lies with Bill 77, the law of 2019 which expanded access to postal voting.

The law has become a punching bag for Republicans at all levels of government in Pennsylvania. Valid concerns, such as the law’s failure to give counties more time to pre-investigate ballots, are being voiced alongside unproven claims that mail-in voting is inherently flawed and susceptible to fraud. .

Prior to the 2022 primary, Lancaster County commissioners voted not to install an absentee ballot drop box at the entrance to the county building, as had been done for every election beginning in 2020.

Again, Parsons and D’Agostino blamed Bill 77, saying the law invited fraud because voters could return other people’s ballots and not just their own, as required by law. the state.

No evidence of widespread voter fraud was presented when the decision was made. The ACLU of Pennsylvania sued the commissioners to force the temporary return of the drop box. A county judge ruled May 13 that the commissioners failed to follow the state’s open meeting law when deciding not to use the drop box. Commissioners met on Monday, May 16 to formally vote to withdraw it again.

This story will be updated.

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