Butler County elections office working to count ballots after voter ID snafu

The Butler County Board of Elections office in Hamilton.
Caption
The Butler County Board of Elections office in Hamilton.

Election officials say they’re working to make sure people get their ballots counted.

An Oxford voter grew concerned when the Butler County Board of Elections sent her a letter indicating her ballot was rejected because of a defective voter identification envelope.

Ann Hand was one of roughly 20,000 Butler County voters who requested an early vote ballot by mail and received an identification envelope with an error. She also received one of 20,000 notices being mailed to those voters asking them to resubmit their voter identification information due to the inherent confusion of that ID envelope.

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The issue surrounds those voters who verified their identification through their vote-by-mail ballots only with their driver’s license number, which are eight characters — two letters and six numbers. The identification envelope, however, only provided six boxes for voters to fill out.

“The confusion is that we changed (the ID envelope) this election to make it easier for voters,” said Butler County Board of Elections Deputy Director Eric Corbin. “But what we did when we put the boxes to help people fill in the ID envelope … we didn’t put the right number of boxes on there, so it has caused some confusion, and unfortunately, we are rejecting some ballots because people are not putting their driver’s license fully.”

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Whenever a ballot is rejected, a letter is sent, but Corbin said the elections office also mailed 20,000 special notices to voters that likely received an incorrect identification envelope. They are being asked to fill out that notice so their ballot can be accepted.

Hand re-sent her form, but is worried “many individuals may not have the opportunity to correct their identification, so their ballots will not be counted,” she wrote on Oct. 21 in a letter to the elections board.

Hand is asking election officials to count the ballots as valid of those who submitted a six-character driver’s license number because the form was “faulty and misleading.”

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Butler County Board of Elections officials said those ballots with incomplete driver’s license numbers would not be counted, but Corbin and elections office director Diane Noonan said they are making every effort to contact voters who provided incomplete information.

Corbin encouraged voters to call the elections office at 513-887-3700 if they have any concerns about their ballot.

The Board of Elections cannot accept incomplete voter information, Corbin said. According to Ohio law, the Board of Elections must have complete information so it can accurately identify voters, he said.

Right now, only 60 people have sent in a ballot with an incomplete driver’s license number, Corbin said.

But that number could rise when more requested absentee ballots sent out on and before Oct. 10 are returned. Around 9,300 vote-by-mail ballots have not been returned that have the incorrect identification envelope.

The error was noticed when a military voter brought the issue to the board’s attention, but it was not in enough time to reprint and re-stuff envelopes to mail the correct form out, said Corbin.

Any requested vote-by-mail ballot postmarked on Oct. 11 or later has the corrected form, he said.

To contact the Butler County Board of Elections, call 513-887-3700 or visit the office at 1802 Princeton Road in Hamilton.

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