At this point, I have very little doubt that you have not heard of the many problems surrounding mail-in voting and election day this year. I mean, the stuff is just everywhere. I have even reported on several instances of massive failure myself.
There have mislabeled ballots, ballots that didn’t make it there on time, ones that didn’t go to the right place, and even ones that were mailed to the dead. And then, of course, there have instances where ballots were not printed correctly, not sent with the appropriate postage, and some that didn’t even include one candidate or the other. Suffice it to say the list is endless.
Luckily, at least for some, these mistakes took place in the primaries, where, while voting is still essential, much fewer people actually show up to vote, and the decisions are not quite so stressful or final. This gave the local postal service, as well as election officials, time to fix the mistake and put measures into place so that the same thing would not happen again during the general election.
However, as I inferred, not all mistakes have been so easily remedied. And for the ones that are happening now, there is very little time to make the necessary changes and get the process right.
Take the county of Westmoreland in Pennsylvania. Just last week, it was brought to the election officials’ attention that some 60,000 ballots in the county were not sent out on time, making the likelihood of them making it back to the office in time to be counted somewhat limited.
Now, the ballots have been sent out directly, and some are already making their way back.
But that won’t be the case in the neighboring county of Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Here, while the ballots were mailed on time, there was an error on some of them that would make them faulty.
According to The Hill, “The Allegheny County Elections Division announced Wednesday that 28,879 voters received incorrect ballots out of the 32,318 that were in the state’s ballot tracker as of Sept. 28.”
Just to make this clear, 28,879 ballots out of 32,318 were faulty. That’s nearly 90%. But I digress because while that number is staggering, to say the least, that isn’t really the point here.
The point is that these ballots are now going to have to be resent out to the correct addressee with the proper printing with only weeks to get them correctly filled out and sent back in for the election office to count.
Now, the county has already been working on resending these. Per The Hill, “The Division said the mailings are being corrected and that new ballots will be delivered starting Oct. 15, with most expected to be delivered the week of Oct. 19.”
This means many voters will have barely more than one week or so to get their ballots back in the mail and correctly sent to the county officials. Not a lot of time, not at all.
But there is something else that worries me even more than these voters possibly not getting their newly printed and hopefully correct ballots on time.
What is most alarming is what the county said they would be doing about the incorrect ballots that were already sent back and received before they were found to be faulty.
According to the Hill, David Voye, the Elections Division Manager for the county, said that the Division staff are working on “segregating ballots that were received from voters affected by the issue, and those will be set aside and reviewed following the election.”
Yes, you read that correctly. He said they would be handled after the election.
Basically, the county has no way of knowing how many ballots they have received back were faulty. Obviously, these cannot be counted. But because they are so short on time, there isn’t really anything they can do except wait until after the election to handle the problem.
Only by waiting until after the election, those ballots won’t really matter any longer. For the rest of the votes, the correct ones will have been counted and a winner announced. The incorrect ones will just sit in a pile while someone decides what to do with them. And in case you missed the massive percentage of faulty ballots mentioned above, the potential is that hundreds, if not thousands of votes won’t be counted.
And in a state like Pennsylvania, where, in 2016, Trump only won by about 45,000 votes, every little bit counts. Between these two counties alone, the screw-ups could cost the county nearly 90,000 votes.