New York City election officials scramble to fix printing error on absentee ballots sent to voters


(NEW YORK) — New York City election officials are scrambling to fix an error that sent at least 100,000 absentee ballots to Brooklyn voters with the wrong name and address printed on the return envelope.

Michael Ryan, the executive director of the New York City Board of Elections, told the board during its weekly meeting Tuesday that the third-party vendor used to print the absentee ballots, Phoenix Graphics Inc., erroneously sent oath envelopes with names, address and bar codes that were different from the names and address listed on the voter’s ballot.

If a voter submits an absentee ballot with the incorrect oath envelope, it will not be counted, according to election officials. Ryan told the board that the error was limited to “one run” of ballots and that the vendor has agreed to send new ballots with the correct oath envelopes.

“We want to, out of an abundance of caution, give a reprinted ballot to all of the voters potentially affected in that first print run,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Board of Elections told ABC News that the second ballots will be sent out to every voter who was included in that first print run, and that voters don’t have to make a request.

Voters who received the misprinted absentee ballots are asked not to fill out or mail those erroneous ballots and wait for the corrected ballot.

Any concerned voter can contact the New York City Board of Elections at 1-866-VOTE-NYC (1-866-868-3692), officials said.

Phoenix Graphics Inc. did not immediately return messages requesting comment. The city Board of Elections awarded the Rochester, New York-based printer a $4.6 million contract to print absentee ballots back in May, according to a report in The City.

Phoenix Graphics’ website touts its absentee ballot printing services, saying its automated system and patented software offer “never-before-achieved speed, security, accuracy, and trackability, with automatic verification of sent and received ballots.”

Ryan told the board that the vendor agreed to pay for the reprinting and re-mailing. The executive director added that there will be a special insert instruction included in the second ballots that will inform the voter about the error and how to proceed with mailing in their corrected ballot.

The board will be making every effort to inform the affected people through e-mail, phone calls and social media, Ryan said.

“It is essential that confidence be established in this process,” he said.

Voters who received the misprinted ballots took to social media to address the issue Monday night, venting their frustrations and confusion at the board. Some of those included New York voters who were out of state and requested an absentee ballot.

The board immediately put out a tweet urging those affected to contact the board and request a new ballot.

Ryan did not have an exact figure of how many people were affected by the error, but Melissa DeRosa, secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, told reporters at a news conference earlier in the day that at least 100,000 Brooklyn voters were affected.

DeRosa noted that the ballots also had a typo, with a slash missing between the words “military” and “absentee,” which would confuse voters.

“To say we’re troubled by this is the understatement of the year,” she said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was also critical of the board and urged them to rectify the problem immediately.

“It’s 35 days to the election. Thank God, there’s time, but this kind of thing really frustrates voters, and this is the most important election in our lifetime,” he said during his daily press briefing.

This isn’t the first time that the New York City Board of Elections has come under fire for mishandling absentee ballots. During the primaries in June, thousands of voters who applied for the mail-in ballots did not receive them until close to the primary date.

Some voters received their primary absentee ballots on primary day.

New York voters have until Oct. 27 to apply for an absentee ballot. The ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3.

Voters who requested an absentee ballot can still choose to head to in-person poll sites, which open for early voting on Oct. 24, and cast their vote in person instead of by mail, according to an election official.

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