Maryland election officials were surprised to discover they had been sent absentee ballots from South Carolina mixed with their own. South Carolina is now considering cutting ties with the printer who apparently made the error.
On Wednesday, Baltimore Sun reporter Emily Opilo tweeted about a “crazy tidbit.”
“Maryland election officials found a bunch of ballots from South Carolina mixed in with their shipments to Baltimore. They use the same vendor. I just talked to an elections official in SC, and he says they’re ready to dump the company,” Opilo wrote.
“SC’s statewide primary is June 9. As of this week, an unknown number of Charleston’s ballots were here in Baltimore. An SC official says they were losing confidence in the mail vendor even before this happened. An entire county didn’t get presidential ballots in Feb,” she added.
SC’s statewide primary is June 9. As of this week, an unknown number of Charleston’s ballots were here in Baltimore. An SC official says they were losing confidence in the mail vendor even before this happened. An entire county didn’t get presidential ballots in Feb.
— Emily Opilo (@emilyopilo) May 20, 2020
The Post and Courier reported that same day that South Carolina election officials are considering whether to have “counties cut ties to a Minnesota printer after about 20 Charleston County absentee ballots were found in Maryland.”
“The ready-to-mail ballots have since made their way to Charleston-area voters, state and county election officials said, but it is just the latest problem with SeaChange Print Innovations, which prints and mails absentee ballots for 13 S.C. counties,” the outlet reported. “Some Greenville County voters received the wrong absentee ballots this year when the Democratic presidential primary and a special election for sheriff were held 10 days apart, S.C. Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said.”
Some ballots were also folded in such a way that may interfere with scanning machines’ ability to read them, Whitmire also told the outlet.
Whitmire also expressed concerns that SeaChange could handle the general election, given the issues so far in the primary and local elections.
“We’re not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling that they can handle this,” Whitmire told the outlet. “We are actively seeking sustainable solutions.”
The issue comes as several states have considered or enacted policies that allow vote-by-mail opportunities due to social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic – to varying degrees of success. Fox News reported last week that Clark County election officials sent ballots to inactive voters, something Republicans argue can increase voter fraud.
“Anyone can turn in a ballot they pick off the ground,” Keith Schipper, communications director for the Nevada Trump Victory, told Fox. “This is a dangerous proposition.”
Another concern with mail-in ballots is the potential for ballot harvesting, where a single person collects dozens, even hundreds of ballots and delivers them at once. In Orange County, California, for example, a record 250,000 mail-in-ballots were counted.
“People were carrying in stacks of 100 and 200 of them. We had had multiple people calling to ask if these people were allowed to do this,” Neal Kelley, the registrar for voters in Orange County, said, according to Fox.
“Several states have enacted some restrictions on the practice, while others have expressly allowed it or failed to regulate it at all. According to a 2019 analysis by Ballotpedia, 24 states and the District of Columbia permit someone chosen by the voter to return mail ballots on their own, with nine of those states adding some specific exceptions,” Fox reported. “Twelve states outline who specifically can return ballots (such as family members or caregivers); and one state explicitly requires that only voters can return their ballots. Eleven states establish a limit on the number of ballots that a so-called “harvester” can return.”
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