Two issues caught by Johnson County officials on Election Day

Election Day went smoothly, though there were a few issues, officials said Monday.

Late in the afternoon on Nov. 8, election officials determined that there was an issue with ballots for the Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson School Board election. Judy Misiniec, a candidate who was running unopposed for the board’s Hensley Township seat, appeared on Nineveh Township ballots when she was not supposed to be an option, Johnson County Clerk Trena McLaughlin told the county election board Monday.

“This is the only school board within the county that you only vote for where you reside,” McLaughlin said. “So in all the other school board districts, you reside in this place, but everyone within that district votes for you.”

The election board was made aware of the issue on the afternoon of Election Day. However, there was nothing that could be done at that point, she said.

Election officials did run a new report for election results that only shows the votes Misiniec received from Hensley Township residents, McLaughlin said.

There was one other issue that happened on Election Day that involved a new election inspector misunderstanding the procedure for change of address changes.

Earlier in the day, the inspector had called election officials about an issue where a voter was listed as residing in the wrong precinct. The inspector was walked through the process of fixing the issue and giving the voter the correct ballot. This does happen sometimes, McLaughlin said.

“People move. It could be in our mapping, so when we’re precincting everyone, she could have got put in the wrong precinct,” she said.

However, an issue with the inspector became apparent later in the day after they failed to follow established change of address procedures for 12 voters.

The voters had said their address had changed, and they were directed to fill out a correction form to update their address per procedure. However, unlike procedure, the inspector pulled the voter aside, found their new address, went through the precinct maps to confirm where the person could vote and allowed them to cast a ballot with the new address, McLaughlin said.

This was not supposed to happen, McLaughlin said.

In this situation, if an election official sees that the person who is attempting to vote has a different address than what they are registered as, the voter is supposed to fill out a form. After the form is filled out, and after the election, the voter’s address will be updated and then they will be able to vote in their new precinct in the next election, she said.

“She misunderstood when she called in here because of the first issue that she should be correcting everyone that had an address change,” McLaughlin said.

The inspector’s misunderstanding was discovered after a discussion between the inspector and a field technician. Once the inspector was told she shouldn’t be doing that, she immediately stopped. The election board later talked to her on election night and verified everything that happened, McLaughlin said.

“She had no clue what she was doing was incorrect,” McLaughlin said. “She just thought, and she was very thankful that ‘Oh, this was really taking me a long time to go through and find this new address to get this person to vote in the right precinct.’”

Despite the fact the inspector’s error affected 12 voters, there were no races that were close enough to call that would lead to any issues, McLaughlin said.

Kevin Service, the election board’s Democratic representative, said this was an issue that should be addressed as part of inspector training to make sure everyone understands what to do in situations like this.

“It’s not a big problem. It was one person one new inspector, but still, we’ll address that in training,” Service said.

McLaughlin agreed, saying this was the first time something like this had ever come up. The inspector went to great lengths to try to help people vote but did not do it the right way.

“She went to very good lengths to try to get this person to vote where they should be voting, but that’s not the correct way to do it. She understands all of that,” McLaughlin said.

Anne McGuinness, the election board’s Republican representative, did not comment on the issue other than acknowledging McLaughlin’s comments. McGuinness was filling in for Phil Barrow, who was absent from Monday’s meeting.