No Small Stuff (cont.): Colorado County Discovers Old Ballots in Drop Box

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Colorado’s Mesa County (Grand Junction) recently discovered hundreds of uncounted ballots from last November election in an election drop box. KJCT8 has more:

The Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters says more than 500 ballots from last year’s election were recently discovered in a drop box.

Which means those ballots weren’t counted during the November 2019 city/county election.

Peters says they were discovered this week when election officials went to pick up the first batch of presidential primary ballots at the drop-off location on Spruce Street in Grand Junction.

She says the Secretary of State’s office was notified right away and the uncounted ballots wouldn’t have changed any results.

Peters hasn’t said how exactly the ballots were left behind– only that an investigation is ongoing and they’re working to implement steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

The clerk offered a written statement regarding the discovery:

“As your Clerk and Recorder, I would like to say I’m sorry for this mistake. Transparency and accuracy in elections in Colorado is a sacred thing and my office strives to be beyond reproach in that regard. From bipartisan election judges and audits like the Logic and Accuracy tests, as well as signature verification and Canvass at the end of the election to verify results, we work very hard to ensure the accuracy and transparency of elections.

Our initial review leads us to believe that had the ballots that were left in the drop box been counted, it would not have produced a different result in any of the elections. However, the Mesa County Clerk & Recorder’s Office understands that this was a serious mistake that should not have happened. Steps to ensure that this won’t occur during the upcoming Primary Election have been taken, and the procedures followed by the elections staff are continuing to be reviewed and modified to ensure that this mistake will never happen again.

The confidence of the voter and the assurance that every ballot is counted and every voice is heard are of paramount importance to me, my elections staff and the integrity of the election.

As your Clerk, I apologize for this error and will always face challenges head-on with transparency and integrity in order to always keep your trust.”

This story is embarrassing for Mesa, but strikes me as an honest error borne of multiple people and moving parts on Election Day. Still, it’s just the latest reminder that there is “no such thing as small stuff in elections.” You can bet that Mesa County will be revising its checklists and other materials to ensure that no ballots get left behind again – and other localities nationwide with similar drop boxes will be reviewing their own procedures to ensure this problem doesn’t happen in their community as well. Double-check those to-do lists and stay tuned …

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