Ohio county says nearly 50,000 voters received wrong ballots

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Nearly 50,000 voters received incorrect absentee ballots in the county that is home to Ohio’s capital, elections officials said Friday as they promised corrected ballots would be mailed within 72 hours.

With about 240,000 ballots mailed, that meant one in five voters received a wrong ballot. The error happened Saturday afternoon when someone changed a setting on a machine that places absentee ballots into mailing envelopes, Franklin County elections officials said Thursday.

This photo made on Oct. 6, 2020, in Westerville, Ohio, shows Ohio absentee ballots. Two voters registered at the same address in the Columbus suburb of Westerville, Ohio, were mailed these differing absentee ballots for the 2020 general election, with one of the ballots listing candidates from a different congressional district. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)

Some ballots had an incorrect congressional race, while others had the correct information but were sent to voters in a different precinct. The Franklin County Elections Board said 49,669 voters received incorrect ballots out of 237,498 that were mailed.

The process to print, stuff the replacement ballots in envelopes and mail them was underway Friday, the Franklin County Elections Board announced.

The board also said it will mail postcards to all affected voters detailing the situation and highlighting voters’ options moving forward. Those options include voting in-person at the board’s offices on the city’s north side.

The elections board said multiple checks are in place to ensure only one voter can cast a ballot, including rejecting any replacement ballots if someone went ahead and voted in person.

The news of the incorrect ballots brought renewed focus on an election seeing an unprecedented number of absentee ballot requests, spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about in-person voting.

On Tuesday, Ohio’s elections chief announced that Ohio’s 88 elections boards had a record number of absentee ballot applications. Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose said 2,154,235 applications had been received — more than double the 1,091,188 absentee ballots applications at the same time four years ago.

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