Darylann Elmi / Getty ImagesA voter registration form is seen in the stock image above. (Darylann Elmi / Getty Images)
The office of Democratic Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a vocal proponent of mass mail-in voting who has rejected claims that it can lead to large-scale fraud, was caught this week making an error on absentee ballots that impacted the ballot line of President Donald Trump.
More than 400 military and overseas ballots were affected, according to The Detroit News.
The state database from which county clerks download ballots that they later send to voters did not include the name of Vice President Mike Pence on the Republican ballot line for the presidential ticket.
Instead, the state office listed Jeremy Cohen, the Libertarian Party’s nominee for vice president, where Pence’s name should have been.
The error was caught Tuesday as county clerks downloaded information from the state so that they in turn could mail out ballots or email PDF versions of the ballots to voters who had requested them.
The error occurred within a time frame of about two hours. It has since been fixed.
“There was a temporary error in the (Qualified Voter File) data that caused some ballots downloaded (Tuesday) to display incorrect ballot information when clerks downloaded the (Qualified Voter File) ballot sent to military and overseas voters. Approximately 400 ballots were downloaded by clerks during this period; we don’t know how many were sent,” Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Benson, told the Detroit Free Press.
Once the state was alerted that it was sending out bad ballots, it sent an email to county clerks saying that “voters who received the incorrect ballot must be sent a replacement MOVE ballot ASAP.”
MOVE is a reference to Michigan’s Military and Overseas Empowerment Act, which sets the rules for overseas and military balloting.
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Wimmer said voters will not be penalized if they return a flawed ballot.
“If a voter does happen to return the incorrect ballot instead of the correct ballot, it will still count,” she told The Detroit News. “The clerk will be instructed to duplicate a vote for Trump onto a ballot for Trump/Pence.”
Wimmer insisted the action was not deliberate.
“It was an accidental programmer error, and was fixed within 90 minutes of being identified,” she told the Free Press.
The incident raised plenty of eyebrows on Twitter:
Joel Hondorp, the city clerk in Grand Rapids, called the problem “a little bit of a glitch.”
“This just threw a wrench in the gearbox,” Joe Riker, the clerk for Brighton Township, added to The Detroit News.
Michigan had problems with mail-in ballots during its primary elections. More than 10,000 ballots were rejected over flaws, with many of the rejections due to issues with the signature on the ballot, according to WDIV-TV.
Michigan is considered a vital swing state for Trump, who in 2016 narrowly won the state.
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