Pleasant Township ballots with wrong school board caught, corrected

About 40 Pleasant Township voters will have to revote after an error with ballots was discovered last week.

Johnson County Clerk Trena McLaughlin was informed last Thursday that a voter had the wrong school board on their ballot when they came into vote early at the Johnson County Courthouse. After the voter voted, they informed poll workers that they voted for Clark-Pleasant School Board candidates instead of Greenwood School Board candidates, McLaughlin said Monday.

Election officials quickly evaluated the situation and determined that the issue resulted from a programming error with MicroVote, the county’s election equipment vendor. The issue affected voters in the Pleasant 33 precinct.

Eight voters had voted on machines with the error. All eight machines were closed and locked up on Friday, McLaughlin said.

“We had a bipartisan team that assisted in closing all those machines, as you know, turning them off, putting a seal on those and locking them away until Election Day,” she said.

This is the same procedure officials use for satellite voter centers when voting has concluded, said Phil Barrow, the Republican representative on the county’s election board.

“They’ll go to the same place. They’re locked up the very same way,” Barrow said.

A bipartisan team came in on Monday to watch MicroVote program the rest of the machines with the correct candidates, McLaughlin said.

Thirty-two absentee ballots were also affected by the error before it was caught. This was a proofing error and as of Monday, officials had received 11 of these ballots back in, she said.

Certified letters explaining the programming error have been sent to all of the voters affected. The letters also explain that they should come and revote between now and Election Day. They could also request a ballot by mail, McLaughlin said.

If they choose not to come back in, their ballots will be kept separate. Their votes for school board candidates will be thrown out but votes for all other offices and questions on the ballot will be kept, she said.

If a voter originally voted by mail, they were sent a new corrected ballot and the letter, she said.

“Hopefully those 11 people that have voted will return the correct ballot back to us,” McLaughlin said.

The machines that have been removed from use will remain locked until Election Day, after which they will be counted separately, she said.

The county’s three-member election board approved the measures taken to rectify the issues in an unanimous vote on Monday.

Officials confirmed that the ballot that was approved during a previous public meeting was correct. Sample ballots that were printed for early voting had the correct school board listed, she said.

Mike Yaggi, a customer service representative for MicroVote, was not sure how the error occurred as he did not create the ballot for Johnson County’s machines. A possible scenario could have been that the absentee ballot or whatever was used to proof the machine ballot was correct, but the machine ballot was incorrect and this was just missed, he said.

Programming errors like this have happened before, but not since McLaughlin has been clerk, she said. This is an error officials did not want to happen again, she said.

“We’re all human and mistakes are made,” McLaughlin said. “I’m glad we caught it.”

Officials do not expect any additional issues with machines or absentee ballots going into the general election.

“We’re sorry for the inconvenience,” McLaughlin said. “We want all of our voters to vote for the correct school board, and we hope that they will correct their ballot and send the correct one back in.”