Ohio’s Franklin County Says Nearly 50,000 Voters Got Wrong Absentee Ballots

October 9, 2020 Updated: October 9, 2020

Officials in Ohio said that about 50,000 voters in Franklin County received incorrect absentee ballots in the mail.

“We can now confirm that 49,669 voters received an incorrect ballot. Those voters will be contacted directly by the Franklin County Board of Elections and a replacement ballot will be mailed to them,” said the Franklin County Board of Elections.

In a news release on Friday, the board said it’s started the process of printing out new absentee ballots to replace the erroneous ones, and it will mail the replacements to every voter who got the wrong ballot. Those ballots will be sent via the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in the next 72 hours, officials said.

“We want to make it 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.”

It came after New York City recently was forced to mail 100,000 absentee ballots after a printing error was reported.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office has directed the board to write a letter that explains the error along with the replacements.

“No vote will be counted twice. Every voter will receive an accurate ballot and that ballot will be counted,” county Elections Director Ed Leonard said.

Leonard said that if a voter sends both the replacement ballot and the original, erroneous ballot then the replacement will be the one that is counted. If a voter sends only the original ballot, only their votes on races that they were eligible to vote in will be counted.

“While this process has taken longer than we’d like, we aren’t just determining a number. We’re determining and identifying each impacted voter,” Leonard said in a news conference on Thursday.

Leonard blamed a malfunction with one of the scanners used to process the ballots.

“On October 3 at 2:24 p.m., a function of one of those scanners was disabled,” he said in a news conference. “This was determined to be the root cause of the system error that led to voters receiving an incorrect ballot.”

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, issued a directive to Franklin County on Thursday to fix the mistake.

LaRose said the county’s board of elections has to create a process for voters who got the wrong ballot and clearly explain that the new one will be sent. The board has to also hold onto it until a correct replacement is submitted, he added, saying that if a correct ballot is never received, the original must be “processed, remade, and scanned on or after the 11th day after the election.”

Over the past several months, President Donald Trump has frequently highlighted errors in the vote-by-mail system, urging people to go to the polls to vote, while adding that it could lead to election chaos or even rigging.

In recent days, about 2,100 Los Angeles County voters received mail-in ballots without a way to vote for president as the ballots omitted the presidential race, and a USPS mail carrier in New Jersey was arrested on Oct. 7 for discarding mail, including almost 100 election ballots.