Officials Scrambling After Error Is Discovered on Ballots Already Mailed to Thousands of Voters


Nearly 20,000 voters in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, may have to vote for a second time this month after an error on their mail-in ballots required that their first ballots be voided.

It’s the third time in three years that Lancaster County has issued inaccurate ballots, according to WGAL.

This time around, the ballots instructed voters to select one candidate in the Superior Court election, when they actually have the option of voting for up to two.

Elections officials told the outlet that 18,554 erroneous ballots were sent out before the error was caught. Some were able to be recovered from the Postal Service prior to delivery, but some had already been completed and returned to be tabulated.

“Your ballot has been received by LANCASTER County on 04/17/2023,” read an automated email some voters reported receiving. “Your ballot status has been updated to canceled because a replacement ballot has been issued.”

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Lancaster County had just over 350,000 registered voters in last November’s election, according to county election statistics, so the incorrect ballots represent roughly 5 percent of the total number of votes that could eventually be cast in this spring’s election.

Of course, the number of people who will actual cast ballots this year is expected to be much smaller than that.

Fewer than 225,000 votes were cast in Lancaster County last year in the Pennsylvania senatorial election.

“Everyone who got mailed a ballot, whether they got it or not, is going to get a replacement ballot,” County Commissioner John Trescot told WGAL. “Everybody who requests a mail-in ballot for this election will have something called a replacement ballot.

Should mail-in voting be restricted to only those who truly need it?

“It will say ‘replacement’ on it. If you have a ballot that doesn’t say ‘replacement,’ please discard it. You will get a replacement ballot.”

The defective ballots will not be counted, even if the voter fails to complete a replacement ballot.

“Our concern here is that people will receive that first ballot, fill it out, send it back, think they’ve done their civic duty, and then when they receive that replacement ballot in a week or two, they will think it’s junk mail or a scam, and throw it in the trash, and their (first ballot) won’t be counted,” Erin Gibson, a Democratic committee member and campaign manager, told LancasterOnline.

Election officials expect the replacement ballots to start showing up at residents’ homes on Monday.

To be counted, voters will have to return them by May 16, giving most voters about three weeks to turn their ballots around.

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This election’s issues mean that Lancaster County has had problems with mail-in ballots for three years running.

“In May 2022, mail-in ballots failed to scan because of an incorrect code. The problem delayed counting because 16,000 ballots had to be counted by hand,” WGAL reported.

“In May 2021, there were also problems with mail-in ballots. In that case, about 12,300 ballots were printed out of order, preventing scanners from reading them.

“Again, those ballots had to be tallied by hand.”

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics