Printing error leads to confusing liquor ballot

Washington County residents began receiving vote-by-mail ballots for the Jan. 21 liquor referendum on Monday; however, Supervisor of Elections Carol Finch Rudd says a second, corrected ballot will soon be on the way after a printing error left voters confused.

The ballot was supposed to pose two questions, first asking voters to vote for or against allowing the sale of wine and intoxicating liquors and then on the method of sale, selecting from “by package only” or “by package and by drink”.

The “for” and “against” choices of the first question were placed on the same line, a juxtaposition that inadvertently made it impossible to select just one.

About 17,200 of the incorrectly worded ballots were sent out before the error was brought to the attention of the elections office. Rudd says she was able to stop the approximate remaining 1,500 ballots from being printed.

“It was a spacing issue that is, obviously, very confusing to voters,” said Rudd. “The printer says they are prepared to make corrections. So far, we have been fortunate in that most everyone who has called with questions has been kind and say they understand that mistakes happen. I am currently investigating this error to determine how this happened.”

Residents who are registered with Alert Washington County can expect a mass notification call, text, and/or email on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Rudd says voters can be on the lookout for the corrected ballots, which will be notated as the corrected ballot on both the outside envelope and return envelope.

Ballots will not be tabulated until a week before the Jan. 21 election date, at which time Elections Office staff and the canvassing board will ensure no voters have sent in more than one ballot as a result of the error.

It is not yet known how much the ballots cost the county or if the printer will be waiving the fees of the erroneous ballot.

A copy of the correct ballot verbiage can be seen below:

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