New mail-in ballots may be sent out after blunder 

San Francisco voters could be receiving new ballots after a blunder that left residents holding the wrong mail-in forms for the June 8 statewide primary election.

Political insiders and candidates on the June ballot have concerns about mail-in forms that were sent to the wrong voters, but even more problematic is the fact that the Elections Department remains unclear about the magnitude of the issue.

As The Examiner first reported Wednesday, San Francisco elections officials confirmed that a contractor sent out at least 1,000 — and likely more — mail-in ballots containing the wrong name on the documents. Although elections officials say they don’t think it’s affected more than 1,500 voters, they cannot be certain.

In addition to the ballots with the wrong names, more than 1,300 voters received duplicate ballots, leaving the Elections Department scrambling to rectify the problem just three weeks before the statewide primary. The election contains statewide primaries for officials, along with local propositions and state measures.

“I’m on the ballot in June and I want to make sure everything is counted and that it’s counted accurately,” said Scott Wiener, who’s running for the Democratic County Central Committee.

The Elections Department started making phone calls Wednesday night to people who may have received the wrong ballot, according to department Director John Arntz.

In addition, Arntz said the department would be reissuing ballots to those people, with the cost being covered by K&H Integrated Print Solutions of Everett, Wash., the vendor that mailed the original ballots.

“Obviously, it’s not a good thing and the department needs to explain to everyone how they managed to mess this up,” said Aaron Peskin, chair of the Democratic County Central Committee.

It’s not the first time San Francisco’s Elections Department has made headlines for ballot mishaps. In 2001, ballot boxes were discovered floating in the Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge.

“It’s a significant issue when elections are screwed up and ballots go awry; it affects public perception of the integrity of the elections process,” said Garry South, a longtime political consultant. He’s working on the campaign for Janice Hahn, who’s running against Mayor Gavin Newsom in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor.

Newsom was assured during a briefing by officials with the Elections Department on Wednesday that every vote will be counted accurately despite the ballot mishap.

“We want to make sure the department is taking every step to ensure the integrity of the June election and see that this vendor error never happens again,” said Tony Winnicker, Newsom’s spokesman. “Obviously, anything that could undermine voter participation or confidence in our elections is cause for concern.”

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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