Absentee ballots mixed up

Published 12:37 am Saturday, November 1, 2014

An absentee ballot mix-up recently caused 11 voters in the Chuckatuck Borough to receive absentee ballots by mail that were meant for Sleepy Hole Borough voters instead.

Registrar Susan Saunders said a voter notified her office of the issue on Monday this week.

“We had someone inform us that a ballot was mailed to them that should have been a Chuckatuck ballot was a Sleepy Hole ballot,” Saunders said.

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She said her office keeps records of what ballots went out to whom on what day, so it was able to contact all of the voters, advise them of the situation and mail them the correct ballots, Saunders said.

All but two correct ballots have been voted and returned already, Saunders said.

“Thank goodness someone said, ‘This is the wrong one,’ because that enabled us to address it,” she said.

She said her office also reported it to the city’s electoral board and the Department of Elections.

“This is very important to us,” Saunders said. “We take every effort to ensure this process goes correctly. We will do a review to see things we can do differently in the future.”

The issue would not have affected Congressional races, as the entire city is in the Fourth District. But Chuckatuck voters have a contested School Board race as well as an uncontested City Council race, and the Sleepy Hole ballot has a special election for School Board with three candidates.

Seneca Bock of the Suffolk-Nansemond Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People encouraged voters using absentee ballots to make sure they are the correct one for their borough.

“If you are voting absentee, please make sure you are checking your ballots,” she said.
“Our concern is making sure there are no extra barriers for voters to have to cross before Election Day.”

She said she encouraged Saunders to do “another level of due diligence” in ensuring the two corrected ballots that have not been returned yet were received and that the voter will be able to return them by Tuesday.

“That is what we just recommended to the registrar,” she said.

Saunders said anyone who received an incorrect ballot should call her office at 514-7750.

Bock also encouraged anyone who received an incorrect ballot to contact the NAACP at 373-3647.

Meanwhile, Saunders encouraged anyone who is eligible to vote absentee and hasn’t already done so to do so in person on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

She also encouraged people who are unsure of where to vote to visit www.sbe.virginia.gov or call her office at 514-7750 on Monday to verify their polling place.

She also reminded voters of the new requirement for photo identification at the polls this year. Her office, located at 440 Market St., can print a temporary photo ID Monday or Tuesday, but voters should arrive earlier rather than later on Tuesday to do so.