Tulare County Registrar of Voters Office issues third ballot correction after a slew of misprints
VISALIA – A third time’s a charm, as the Tulare County elections office called for yet another reprint of inaccurate voter ballots.
On Oct. 28, the Tulare County Registrar of Voters Office announced that voter ballots were reissued for a third time this month after a geographical error caused by recent redistricting in Visalia. When the printing company working with the elections office was printing the second batch of ballots, there was confusion on the vendor’s behalf, resulting in 122 of the re-printed ballots still showing mistakes, according to Tulare County elections officer Michelle Baldwin. The misprints occurred just over a week before election day.
“We understand that ballot issues can cause voters to feel frustrated and confused,” Baldwin stated . “We recognize and take responsibility for that, we apologize, and we are taking proactive action to ensure this issue does not occur again.”
After ballots were first sent out on Oct. 11, there were 301 voters who received ballots for the wrong district. To remedy this, the elections office reissued the ballots. However, after reprinting the second batch of ballots, the elections office found that the printing company accidentally printed 122 of those ballots incorrectly, calling for a third reprint.
“The printing process is very complex, and we work hand-in-hand with the data team for the district lines, our team members, and our contracted printer,” Baldwin stated. “We are all committed to ensuring that voters have the correct information and feel the process is secure, which is our mission.”
Baldwin said this circumstance is the result of the recent redistricting that took place in Visalia after the 2020 Census, which resulted in some Visalia residents having to vote in different districts after it was changed in the springtime of this year. This created an issue since ballots have different voting options in congressional, state senate, state assembly, school board and city council seats. There were originally 13 residents in Visalia’s District 3 that mistakenly received ballots for District 1. However, after more investigation, that number jumped to 301 voters who received inaccurate ballots.
“So for our print vendor, it was a little bit confusing for whatever reason for those 122. The others that we had to resend all got the correct ballot, except for that small group,” Baldwin said.
According to Stephanie Hill, system and procedure analyst for the elections office, this issue came about because of the elections office’s geographical information system (GIS), which helps to provide the geographical locations for addresses in the county. For example, the system mixed up two locations that are very close in proximity to each other, about a block’s distance away, so residents located on
Sunnyside Court, which is in District 3 of Visalia, were mistakenly sent ballots for Sunnyside Avenue, which is in District 1.
Corrected ballots have been sent out and the Registrar of Voters office has voided the previous ballots in the system. They will be rejected if they reach the office. In addition to a corrected ballot, affected voters received a postcard with information about their new ballot and how to contact their local office.
According to Baldwin, there is no additional cost to resend the ballots minus the fees for postage, which is established by post offices.