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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Error-Filled Instructions Are Sent to Ohio Voters

A Republican-run election board in a northern Ohio county sent out voting instructions to several precincts with the wrong date for Election Day and an incorrect description of the polling place location, leading state Democrats to suggest foul play in a presidential race that could be decided in a handful of states like Ohio by tiny margins.

The Ottawa County Board of Elections sent a mailer to three precincts last week referring to Election Day as Nov. 8, instead of Nov. 6, and said their new voting place was in a building on the east side of the high school rather than on its west side.

The Ohio Democratic Party issued a statement saying, “This error is deeply troubling.” A party spokesman, Jerid Kurtz, said it was “paramount that voters not be misled” and asked the board not only to issue a correction but also to review all its correspondence with voters from the past year.

JoAnn Friar, director of the count y's elections board, said that the error was unintentional and that a corrected version was being edited and would be sent out promptly.

“We had three precincts changing polling locations from the high school gym to the new maintenance building, and the mailer we sent out had the wrong date,” she said. “Then in trying to give more precise directions, it said it was to the east of the high school, and it's really to the west.”

She said she suspected that the first error was a result of substituting part of the text on last year's form, which was stored in the computer and when Election Day was Nov. 8, without proofreading it. “We're sorry for the inconvenience,” she added. “There was certainly no intention of trying to make it more difficult for the voters.”

Ms. Friar said the wrong mailer went out to some 2,300 voters out of a total of about 30,000 in the county, which is on Lake Erie in northeastern Ohio near Toledo. Asked to explain how tw o errors were included in one short announcement, she replied, “If you're going to mess up, do it right.”