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Finger Pointing On Vernon Absentee Ballot Mix-Up Won't Delay Fix

Absentee Ballots
John Froschauer
Election workers handle mail ballots.

The Connecticut Secretary of State office says it's moving quickly to fix an absentee ballot mix-up in Vernon, despite finger pointing between the state and local election officials. The state confirmed Tuesday night that about 100 voters in Vernon received ballots with mailing labels that list the wrong voting districts.

The town officials sent out a press release that blamed the Secretary of the State for a voter database glitch, which lead to a misprint of mailing labels. Scott Bates is deputy Secretary of the State. He says Vernon voter registrars entered their own data wrong.

“Six hundred thousand absentee ballots as we speak are being processed efficiently and effectively. In this case of Vernon, they just need to do their job and they need to make sure that they enter the data where it’s supposed to be," Bates says, "but we’re happy to help fix their mistake.”

Bates says he’s working with Vernon officials to make sure the voters will receive their correct ballots as soon as possible. He also noted that with the November election weeks away, it's time to put party politics aside and work together to administer an election during the pandemic.

Vernon's mayor is Republican. Bates says Vernon was the last town in the state to accept the option for a secure ballot collection box in front of city hall, as national Republican party leaders rallied against vote-by-mail efforts. State election officials have repeated that absentee voting is secure and voter fraud by mail is incredibly rare, debunking claims by the president. 

Chris Prue, the Democratic town registrar in Vernon, says he doesn't see how a data entry error by his registrars office could have caused the mailing label misprints. He says there was no rhyme or reason to which voters got misprinted mailing labels.

"Fortunately we have time on our side. We are still weeks ahead," Prue said, "Plenty of time to remedy this in all the municipalities.”

The Secretary of the State’s office says the only other town that reported a similar issue with absentee ballot printouts was Wallingford, where an issue affected about 200 voters. Local election officials there said it was caused by a local data entry error, not a state database glitch. State and local election workers are fixing the mix-up.