In New York, absentee voters must place their completed absentee ballot papers in a return envelope, known as the “oath,” which includes the voter’s name, address, and voter ID. The section envelope is then placed inside a second envelope for return to local election officials.
Instead, voters affected by the latest error received a section envelope containing the personal information of another voter, raising questions about whether votes would be counted in the fall elections. The incident comes amid widespread debate – and frequent misinformation – about the security of mail voting.
Valerie Vásquez Diaz, a spokeswoman for the board, told CNN that the case affected 99,477 voters. She blamed a third-party vendor, Phoenix Graphics, who was hired to print the ballots and mail them to voters in Brooklyn and Queens. CNN has reached out to the company for comment.
Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the Election Board, said at a meeting Tuesday afternoon that the city had ordered the vendor to re-send the new ballot papers “to ensure that no denial of the right to vote occurs in the Brooklyn area.”
The retransmitted ballot papers will contain an appendix explaining why the voter is displeased with the ballot. Ryan said they will also use traditional and social media to make sure voters are informed of what’s going on.
“It is imperative that trust be built in this process,” Ryan said at the meeting.
“The Bank of England will do everything that needs to be done administratively whether in communicating with voters in advance in terms of mail forwarding or at the back end to ensure that all ballots received are appropriately processed and the votes counted are appropriately credited to the voters who participated in the process.”
A total of 520,000 absentee ballots were sent across the city, according to Vázquez Diaz, with the cards being sent for the first time on September 18. As of Tuesday, it was not clear if any ballot papers affected by the error had been returned.
City election officials were first notified of the printed error Monday afternoon after multiple calls from anxious voters. The envelope bug also started making the rounds on social media, as city voters were horrified by the mistake.
Anders Kapoor, 29, who lives in Brooklyn and usually votes Democrats, was shocked to realize that he had inappropriately received the oath envelope from another voter.
He told CNN: “It is assumed that there is someone who has an envelope with my name written on it, and if they do not read the ballot as closely as I did, they can vote in my name.”
Kapoor told CNN that he called the city’s election board as soon as he realized there was a problem. They told him that they would send him a new ballot, but Kapoor feared the mixing would lead to potential questions about voter fraud.
Brooklyn resident Barry Pechesky said he would “swallow it up and vote personally, just in case.”
Vásquez Diaz said the election board would release a plan Tuesday afternoon to address the issue.
Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized the Election Board for the error.
“They have to fix this immediately. This is horrific. It’s very easy to avoid this error and it is very easy to fix this error,” Democrat de Blasio said on Tuesday.
Anyone who received the ballot was asked to call and request a new one. De Blasio described the experience as frustrating for voters and said that with 35 days since the election, there is still time to get the vote right.
Although incorrectly printed ballot papers are not common, this year, given the expected increase in mail-order voting, the smallest errors could affect hundreds if not thousands of voters.
David Baker, founder of the nonpartisan Center for Innovation and Electoral Research, told CNN that although “errors” have occurred in mail-order polling, their prevalence this fall means that such errors could have widespread consequences, not just in terms of the likelihood that Leads to vote confusion but provides more examples of President Donald Trump and critics to sow doubts about the mail vote.
“We have foreign candidates and opponents who are actively striving to take advantage of any problem, no matter how small, to reduce voter confidence in the system, to delegitimize these elections. Most election officials across the country are on high alert, and they make sure and check very well that problems haven’t happened – which is It’s really impressive given the number of new mail-vote options out there, as there are no more problems, “said Baker.
Baker noted that problems such as a typo in New York are likely to lead to voter-deprivation issues of the right to vote on voter fraud within the email voting system. Baker said that there are multiple protections in the voting process that prevent a voter from voting with someone else’s ballot.
A similar print issue affected more than 6,100 voters in Michigan’s Northwest District. New York County clerk Jason Vanderstilt explained in a letter Monday that absentee ballots were sent outside the main court race, resulting in new ballot papers being printed. Vanderstilt said he was first notified of the matter over the weekend as new ballots are due to arrive on Thursday.
“Upon the arrival of these new ballots, our staff will work hard to reissue new absentee ballots to all voters whose ballot papers have already been sent,” Vanderstelt said in a letter.
In his letter, Vanderstilt noted that the county has procedures in place that ensure that only one ballot paper is counted for each voter.
“The fact that all of these errors are instantly detected and fixed should give people confidence in the integrity of our system,” said Baker.