Oops: Hundreds of Michigan Overseas Mail-in Ballots Omitted a Pretty Important Name

Posted: Sep 16, 2020 9:50 AM
Oops: Hundreds of Michigan Overseas Mail-in Ballots Omitted a Pretty Important Name

Source: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Are hundreds of Michigan voters who serve in the military or live overseas about to get mail-in ballots that are missing a pretty important name? Election officials recently discovered that, in lieu of Mike Pence, was the name Jeremy Cohen, Jo Jorgenson’s Libertarian running mate.

The Detroit News explained what caused the egregious mishap.

The error occurred with ballots meant to be mailed or emailed to Michigan residents living abroad under the Military and Overseas Empowerment (MOVE) Act. Those ballots usually are downloaded by local clerks' offices upon request from an overseas voter and either printed and mailed, or downloaded via PDF and emailed to the voter before the election. 

Within a roughly two-hour time frame Tuesday afternoon, ballots downloaded from the state website to be mailed or emailed to those overseas “had an error in the presidential race impacting how candidates and running mates were listed,” according to an email sent from the state to clerks impacted by the error.

The Michigan Secretary of State's Office confirmed the error, and apologized, adding that she doesn't know how many of these ballots were already sent out.

"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," said Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. "Approximately 400 ballots were downloaded by clerks during this period; we don’t know how many were sent."

Wimmer said the error was corrected within 90 minutes and instructed local clerks to reissue correct ballots. If voters do return votes on the incorrect ballots, they have a plan for that too.

"If a voter does happen to return the incorrect ballot instead of the correct ballot, it will still count. The clerk will be instructed to duplicate a vote for Trump onto a ballot for Trump/Pence," Wimmer said.

"Since these ballots generated out of (Qualified Voter File) are all duplicated regardless, the procedure would not differ from what would be done with a vote for Trump on the correct ballot."

Livonia’s city clerk Susan Nash called the whole situation "embarrassing."

“I think it’s embarrassing," she said. "As a clerk, you’d be embarrassed that you sent out the wrong ballot.It’s just one more thing for clerks to take care of.”

Here we have another example of human error when it comes to mail-in ballots. And yet Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been pushing for mass mail-in voting, arguing that it's important to offer voters the option during the coronavirus pandemic. Congressional Republicans and President Trump have pushed back, leading Pelosi and associates to accuse the White House of trying to hold the Postal Service hostage to try and guarantee his re-election. 

Nonsense, of course.

President Trump has singled Benson out specifically and told her he doesn't want her sending absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 registered Michigan voters. 

"Obviously, there’s going to be fraud," Trump suggested. "We're not babies."

The president threatened to withhold funding from Michigan if Benson proceeds with her plan.