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LaRose Issues Directive for Franklin County to Fix Ballot Mistake

Franklin County ballot with races specific to Whitehall sent to Worthington voter
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
This Franklin County ballot with races specific to the city of Whitehall had been sent to a Worthington voter.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-Ohio) has issued a directive for the Franklin County Board of Elections in order to fix the mistake of sending wrong ballots to voters. The scope of the problem is yet to be determined. But election officials say this creates an important lesson for voters around the state.

The Franklin County Board of Elections must create a process that gets the word out for voters who received the wrong ballot and clearly explain to them that a new ballot will be sent. The messaging includes updating the county's online ballot tracker system, if possible.

Maggie Sheehan, spokesperson for LaRose, issued a statement regarding the problem saying, "System checks are in place to make sure mistakes like the one made by the Franklin County Board of Elections don’t happen—but they only work if the board properly executes those checks. When we became aware of the issue, we immediately notified the Franklin County Board of Elections, and they began work to mitigate the issue with impacted voters."

The directive also says the county must provide a replacement ballot for every voter who received an incorrect ballot.

Then LaRose details how the county should address a situation in which a voter may have already filled out an incorrect ballot. If that happens, the board must hold onto that ballot until the voter sends in the replacement (correct) ballot. If a replacement ballot is never received the original ballot must be "processed, remade, and scanned on or after the 11th day after the election."

Aaron Ockerman with the Ohio Association of Election Officials says voters everywhere should learn from this and take a second look at their ballot.

"That is a really good lesson for everyone around the state that you should take the responsibility to double check your ballot to make sure that everything is on there and that everything is correct, and if you flag an issue or a problem and have a concern, you should reach out to your board of elections and make them aware of it," Ockerman said.

He adds that when a voter fills out the wrong ballot, election officials will do a top down count of votes for every race they can. For example, the presidential race applies for every Ohio voter.
Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow
Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.