Jacksonville, FL — The Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office is using a new vendor for ballot printing this election, and some of those ballots are slightly larger than the specs that allow them to be read by machines at polling locations.
WOKV first received reports from some voters, who said their ballots were not being read by the machines, and instead the ballots were being collected by poll workers.
Duval Chief Elections Officer Robert Phillips confirms to WOKV that some ballots were printed with a very slight variance from the specs, meaning they are too wide for many of the machines at the polling locations to accept. By Tuesday night, Phillips told WOKV that around 1,700 ballots could not be scanned, across 45 precincts.
It appears to be mostly non-partisan ballots having this problem, although there have been some partisan ballots that did not fit as well.
The precincts have a procedure in place for situations like this, and Phillips says everyone followed the process.
If a ballot is not accepted by the machine, it is collected in an “emergency compartment”, which is not touched until the end of today. Once polls close, the poll workers attempt to run the ballots through the machines at the precincts again. If they are still not accepted, the ballots are put in an “unscanned bag”, which is then taken to the Elections office at One Imeson.
Phillips says they then put the unscanned ballots through their machines at headquarters, which are not as picky about the size specifications as the ones at the polling locations. Those ballots will be scanned tonight and tomorrow morning. Phillips says they have prioritized the precincts with affected ballots, so they can be processed as soon as they get to the Election headquarters.
Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan says they’re also offering affected voters the opportunity to fill out a new ballot and “spoil” the first one, to see if the second ballot fits through the machine.
“No voter has been turned away, every vote is going to be counted, and the voracity and the accuracy of the voting has not been impaired,” Hogan says.
These are handled separate from provisional ballots, which are reviewed by the Canvassing Board. The Canvassing Board will meet first thing tomorrow morning.
Phillips says they did test ballots and machines ahead of today, and did not see this problem.
Hogan says the vendor on the ballots, ES&S, has been providing tabulator machines for Duval County for awhile, but this is a new contract with them to also do printing on ballots.
“We’re gunna be all over our vendor on this, because that’s just not acceptable work,” Hogan says.
He says the prior vendor that the County had used had financial problems and went out of business.
Hogan says this company is used by many other Supervisors in Florida, but his office plans to revisit their contract for printing for November, to determine if a different vendor should handle that.
“Unfortunately, we’re facing right down the road is the next election, so ballots will have to be printed in shot order here. And going to another vendor- it may be the option, it may not be the option. It may be just a one-time quirk, but it’s certainly not acceptable to us,” Hogan says.
WOKV has reached out to ES&S for comment, and we have not yet heard back.