A typographical error has affected mail ballot papers in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania – NBC10 Philadelphia

Mistakes in the press force local officials in the Pennsylvania and Oregon elections to rework thousands of ballots sent by mail – a time-consuming process that could delay the results of some fiercely fighting races at the primaries on Tuesday.

In Pennsylvania, where the Republican Party’s primaries for governors and the U.S. Senate are attracting national attention, Republican-leaning Lancaster County officials said the company that printed the ballots by mail included the wrong ID code, preventing them from scanning. The problem was at least 21,000 ballots sent by mail, only a third of which were scanned properly.

The failure will force voters to manually put in new ballots, which is expected to take several days. Officials in the county, the sixth most populous in the state, have promised that eventually all ballots will be counted.

“Citizens deserve accurate election results, and they deserve to receive them on election night, not a few days,” Josh Parsons, a Republican and vice chairman of the county council, told a news conference. “But because of that, we’re not going to have the final election results from these ballots in the mail, probably a few days, so it’s very, very upsetting to us.”

In Oregon, where all registered voters receive ballots by mail, officials in one politically key constituency face a similar problem. About half of the ballots sent to voters in Klakamas County, the third most populous county in the state, included a blurred barcode that could not be read by ballot scanners.

Teams that include both Democrats and Republicans duplicate each ballot so they can be scanned. Ben Morris, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, said the results could be delayed but would be accurate.

Clackamas County includes part of the new 6th District of Oregon Congress, formed after the state won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census. It also includes the recently revised 5th Congressional Constituency, where incumbent Democratic MP Kurt Schreider faces a serious major challenge from Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a lawyer and former city planner who is committed to party progressives.

The new constituency is more conservative than the previous one, prompting some Democrats to worry that McLeod-Skinner’s victory would jeopardize Democrats ’chances of retaining a seat in the fall.

In a statement issued by the campaign, McLeod Skinner said of possible problems with the vote count: “Now, more than ever, it is important that we respect the fairness of our election. We know that it may take extra time to count the ballots, and we respect the state procedure. The most important thing is that the voice of every Oregon resident is taken into account. “

Pennsylvania and Oregon were among five states to hold primaries Tuesday, along with Idaho, Kentucky and North Carolina, where election officials investigated delays at polling stations in three counties. Voting hours could be extended if any voter was unable to vote, said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the North Carolina State Election Commission.

Problems in Pennsylvania have erupted in a state where former President Donald Trump has challenged his loss to Joe Biden in 2020 and where many Republican lawmakers have repeated his false allegations about stolen elections.

Improperly coded ballots have once again drawn attention to the 2019 state voting law – passed with the support of two parties – which has greatly expanded postal voting, often a target for Trump.

Local election officials across the state have criticized several restrictions on the law, especially one that prevents them from processing ballots sent by mail before election day. This would allow counties to get a head start on checking these ballots and start detecting any errors.

Lancaster County Council Chairman Ray D’Agostino called the law “indecent” for constituencies trying to hold elections.

County officials said the contractor, Kleisburg, Pennsylvania, NPC, sent county test ballots with the correct identification code, but used the wrong code in the ballots sent to voters. The NPC did not immediately respond to the message with a request for comment, but D’Agostino said the company had taken “full responsibility”.

The Pennsylvania State Department said it was aware of the problem in Lancaster County. Spokeswoman Ellen Lyon said no other constituencies had reported similar problems.

Constituency voters now have to resume voter selection on blank ballots and then scan them, a process expected to begin on Wednesday. Lancaster County, which won Trump by about 16 percentage points compared to Biden in the 2020 presidential race, was forced to use a similar process during last year’s primaries due to a typo by another vendor who was later fired.

Christa Miller, head of the voter registration department, said the voter reads out each voter’s choice, the other employee writes them on a blank ballot, and the observer will make sure the election is marked correctly.

“Our top priority is accuracy, not how fast we can do something,” she said.


Associated Press authors Gillian Flaccus of Portland, Oregon, and Chris Grigil of Seattle contributed to this report.


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