Voter gets two ballots - but only one counts

October 17, 2012
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Frank Blotz was shocked when his wife, Judy, received two election ballots in the mail Tuesday. And he was a little jealous.

“I’m a registered Republican and my wife is a Democrat,” Blotz said. “I wondered why I didn’t get two ballots.”

The snafu doesn’t happen often, said Alissa Vander Veen, chief deputy and communications manager for the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder’s office.

“We know it occurs,” Vander Veen said. “It’s less than one percent probably.”

County Clerk & Recorder Wayne Williams said it’s not possible for someone to vote twice.

“Only one ballot will be counted,” he said. “And if somebody gets two ballots, only one is valid.”

The  system the county uses the count ballots would void the second ballot, Vander Veen said.

“We’d also catch it when doing signature verification on a ballot and would see that person had already voted,” Vander Veen said.

Vander Veen said when voters end up with two ballots, it’s usually because they misplaced the first one, requested a second from the clerk’s office, and then found the first one.

Williams said duplicate ballots also are a product of the system used to mail ballots. A list is sent to Integrated Voter Solutions, the Denver-based company that inserts and mails ballots to people in El Paso County. If a voter makes a name or address change after that list is sent about two months ahead of the Nov. 6 election, they could be mailed two ballots, even though the clerk’s office sends a void list to IVS when changes are made.

“That actually happened with my kid,” Williams said. “One ballot was sent to our home here and one to Japan where he’s living. The one sent to our home was voided because he’d already made the (address) change.”

 So what caused Judy Blotz to receive two mail ballots?

Williams said she was registered as a permanent mail ballot voter but in early October requested a mail ballot specifically for the upcoming election. The clerk’s office mailed 12,202 ballots Monday to voters who had made late changes. IVS mailed 190,746 ballots Monday.

Voters also could get two ballots if they’re registered with two different names, Williams said, like when someone gets married.

The county tests for duplicate registrations, but that doesn’t always prevent duplicate ballots from going out, he said.

Blotz called the clerk’s office and was told which ballot had been voided.

“The clerk we talked to checked with her supervisor and told us what indicated a bad ballot, so we could tell which one was good,” Blotz said. “She told us to tear up the bad one. I don’t have any complaints with Williams’ office. They have a lot to deal with.

Years ago, they didn’t have to do all these mail-in ballots.”

Contact Bob Stephens: 636-0276 Twitter @bobgstephens
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