In New York, absentee voters must place their completed absentee ballots in a return envelope, known as an “oath” envelope, which contains the voter’s name, address, and voter ID card. Oath envelopes are placed inside a second envelope to be returned to local election officials.
Instead voters affected by the recent error received an oath envelope with the personal information of another voter, questioning whether ballots would be counted in the election. The incident has come to light because of widespread discussion and frequent misinformation – about the safety of mail-in voting.
Valerie Vazquez-Diaz, a board spokesperson, told CNN that the issue affected 99,477 voters. She blamed a third-party vendor, Phoenix Graphics, who was contracted to print and mail ballots to voters in Brooklyn and Queens. CNN has reached out to the company for comment.
The Board of Elections executive director, Michael Ryan, said in a meeting on Tuesday afternoon that the city ordered the seller to send new ballots “to ensure that there is absolutely no disaffiliation in the Borough of Brooklyn.”
The remaining ballots will have a concise explanation explaining why the voter is angry at the ballot. Ryan said that they will use traditional and social media to ensure voters know what is happening.
“It is essentially the belief that trust has to be established in the process,” Ryan said at the meeting.
“The BOE will do everything it needs to do administratively to re-match aspect in communication with voters, and on the back-end to ensure that all of the ballots received are properly processed And votes that are long are properly credited to voters who have participated in the process, ”Ryan said.
According to Vazquez-Diaz, a total of 520,000 absentee ballots have been sent across the city, with the first ballots being sent on 18 September. As of Tuesday, it was unclear whether any ballots affected by the error were returned.
City election officials were given misinformation Monday afternoon after several calls from worried voters. The envelope error also started making rounds on social media, as city voters were removed from the mix-up.
29-year-old Anders Kapoor, who lives in Brooklyn and usually votes Democrat when he realized he had improperly received the second voter’s oath envelope.
“Presumably, someone has an envelope with my name on it, and if they don’t read the ballot as closely as I did, they can vote on my name,” he told CNN.
Kapoor told CNN that he contacted the city’s Election Board and as soon as he came to know that there was a problem. He tells her that they will send him a new ballot, but Kapoor worries that this mix could pose potential questions of voter fraud.
Brooklyn resident Barry Petcheski said he would “just suck it up and vote in person, just in case.”
Vazquez-Diaz said the Board of Elections would issue a plan on Tuesday afternoon to address the issue of elections.
Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed the Board of Elections for the mistake.
Democrat said on Tuesday, “They have to fix it immediately. It’s horrific. It’s very easy to avoid this mistake and it’s very easy to fix this mistake.”
He called the person receiving the ballot and called to bring a new one. De Blasio described the experience as disheartening for voters and said that until 35 days after the election, there is still time to get a correct turnout.
Although incorrectly chosen ballots are not uncommon, this year, due to the expected surge in mail-in voting, the smallest of the mistakes could affect hundreds if not thousands of voters.
David Baker, founder of the Nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation and Research, told CNN that although “mistakes” occur with mail-in ballots, this decline means that such errors can have broader consequences, not In the ability to lead the voter. Confusion but provide more precedent for President Donald Trump and critics to sow doubts about mail-in voting.
“We have candidates and foreign supporters actively trying to take advantage of any problem, no matter how small, to lower the voter’s confidence to hand over this election, to most of the election officials across the country Ensuring high vigilance and double-checking those problems. Baker said, “It doesn’t happen and it’s really very impressive how many new options for mail-in voting, and not more problems. Are. ”
Baker noted that problems like missprint in New York lead to more voter disengagement issues than voter fraud within the vote-by-mail system. Baker said there are several protections within the voting process that prohibit a voter from voting with someone else’s ballot.
A similar printing problem affected more than 6,100 voters in a northwestern county in Michigan. Nuego County Clerk Jason Vanderstelt explained in a letter Monday that absentee ballots left an important judicial race, prompting new ballots to be printed. Vanderstrelt said he was first informed on the issue over the weekend with new ballots coming on Thursday.
“When new ballots arrive, our clerks will work diligently to republish new absentee voter ballots to all voters who have already been sent a ballot,” read Vanderstelt’s letter.
Vanderstelt noted in his letter that the county has procedures that ensure only one ballot will be counted for each voter.
“The fact is that all these mistakes are being caught immediately and people must believe in the integrity of our system,” Baker said.