110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Some ballots were missing pages, others were slow to arrive
By Pat Andrews
posted Oct 18, 2012 - 3:24:38pm
The call came from a DeBary reader Oct. 12: An absentee ballot for the general election, requested weeks before, had not arrived. The reader was worried about getting it in time for the election.
The Elections Office told the caller to give it until Oct. 15, because there had been "gobs and gobs" of problems with absentee ballots, the caller said.
There were problems, and they stemmed from a vendor hired to print and mail the absentee ballots, Elections Supervisor Ann McFall said.
The vendor, Advanced Ballot Solutions in Clearwater, was hired this year. Previously, the Elections Office handled the work internally, hiring 15-20 temporary workers to help with the project. Outsourcing had looked like a good solution, until tracking revealed the initial run of around 40,000 ballots to be mailed Oct. 2 sat for days at the vendor, then were finally transported to the Tampa regional postal center instead of the Orlando center, McFall said. From Tampa, the Postal Service transferred the ballots to Jacksonville, and the ballots were just being delivered starting Oct. 15.
The DeBary caller's ballot arrived that day.
McFall said the Elections Office knows of missing pages in nine or 10 ballots of 370 absentee ballots, all in Precinct 903 in Edgewater, so far — a printing error.
How will that be handled?
Voters who detect the error should call the Elections Office. They will be mailed a new ballot. As of Oct. 17, four calls have been received.
Absentee ballots mailed in from voters in the precinct will be segregated, and opened by the Canvassing Board Monday, Oct. 22, when the board starts to work.
"We will look at the numbers of pages or cards," McFall said, and not at how people voted.
Canvassing Board members are McFall, Judge David Foxman, and County Council Vice Chair Joyce Cusack.
McFall said it is a delicate situation, balancing the right of the voter's vote to count, versus voter privacy. That's why she won't touch the ballots until the Canvassing Board meeting.
The deadline for the Elections Office to mail absentee ballots is Oct. 31, so voters who haven't yet received a ballot or receive a problem ballot should contact the Elections Office by Friday, Oct. 19.
Send an e-mail to McFall at email@example.com, call 386-736-5930, or visit the Elections Office in the Volusia County Historic Courthouse at 125 W. New York Ave., next to Chess Park, in DeLand.
McFall said phone-bank staff will start calling people who have already reported not getting ballots on Oct. 18, to make sure the ballots have been received. If not, a new ballot will be mailed.
Some ballots were misprinted, stating "Page 1 of 3," and so forth, when the ballot totals six pages, including the amendments printed on the back. The ballots should have stated, "Card 1 of 3," McFall said, and voters should be sure to look on the back of each page of the ballot.
Around 15,000 or so total absentee ballots had come in as of Oct. 16. Scanning of absentee ballots will begin Monday, Oct. 22, McFall said.
And, if you're mailing in your absentee ballot: It will take two postage stamps because of the extra-large ballot this year, McFall said.
The Elections Office has taken back the responsibility of absentee-ballot distribution, she said, and elections staff are mailing all ballots. She noted other counties in Florida are having similar problems with ballot mailings.
According to news reports, some Lee County voters were mailed two ballots. In Collier County, a printing error caused confusion about returning ballots.
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