Ballot flub costs overtime hours 

City workers are logging overtime hours in the run-up to the June 8 election to correct a ballot problem where hundreds of absentee voters got the wrong one in the mail.

Last week, the Elections Department kept as many as eight employees on overtime to make calls to voters who it had identified as possibly receiving the wrong ballot. But the overtime bill is being footed by the vendor — K&H Integrated Print Solutions of Everett, Wash. — which has claimed responsibility for printing and mailing the wrong documents.

John Arntz, director of the Elections Department, said the vendor will reduce the cost of the invoice to compensate The City and its overtime expenses used to fix the ballot blunder. The department has a $148,000 contract with K&H.

But how much that contract will be reduced has yet to be determined, Arntz said.

The number of voters who received the wrong ballot in the mail increased to 178 as of Wednesday. Arntz said the department is quickly reissuing ballots to those voters. Also, elections officials sent out a letter to more than 1,500 voters to warn them that they could have received the wrong ballot in the mail.

There still appears to be no more than 300 voters who received the wrong ballot, Arntz said.

“It’s not like we have been deluged with phone calls regarding this,” he said.

So far, 15,000 absentee voters have returned their ballots with votes cast. But only a handful had voted using the wrong ballot, Arntz said. In those cases, officials have contacted the voter and reissued the ballot, he said.

There are roughly 175,000 residents in The City who vote by mail, according to the Elections Department. Each ballot that’s mailed to a voter’s home has their name printed on the return envelope, along with a bar code. The information on the envelope allows the department to check the voter’s signature, which must match one on file from registration cards. The Elections Department first started receiving calls May 12, two days after the first ballots were mailed, with voters who reported either getting the wrong ballot or having duplicate ballots.

“We are working to remedy the situation for whomever might be affected by it,” Arntz said.

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