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Kalamazoo County replaces hundreds of incorrect absentee ballots

An absentee ballot in an envelope.
Nadya Peek
Hundreds of absentee ballots with the wrong candidates were mailed out to voters in 5 Kalamazoo County precincts.

Replacement absentee ballots were sent out to hundreds of voters in Kalamazoo County this week after a mistake was discovered on the original forms.

MLive reported that ballots sent to voters in four Schoolcraft Township precincts and one Portage precinct listed candidates running for Michigan’s 63rd House of Representatives district race instead of the 61st district.

New ballots and a letter explaining the situation were sent to everyone in the affected area who applied for an absentee ballot. But hundreds of people had already mailed in their vote before someone tipped a Schoolcraft clerk off to the issue. If they want their vote for the 61st House district to count, they will need to send in the new ballot.

A short investigation by the Kalamazoo County clerk determined the issue was an input error from before the ballots were printed off. There were no problems detected with any other Kalamazoo County ballots.

Thomas Whitener is one of the three candidates whose name was left off the original ballot. He says he's been trying to reach out to voters to let them know about the unusual circumstance.

“It's just another thing to deal with. You know, every day is something new as a candidate, so you kind of just roll with the punches and try to keep on top of things.”

Alberta Griffin is also running for the 61st district House seat. She’s also informing voters about the situation and urging them to vote again if they already mailed in one of the incorrect ballots.

Griffin says she understands that human error happens all the time, but she worries about the impact this mistake might have on the race.

“With the competitive nature of this race and with me potentially being the first woman of color winning in this district, it made me a little nervous,” she said. “I feel like there is an opportunity for there to be a pivotal change and a show of diversity… and I want to make sure that I am able to represent our constituents, which I think I can do.”

Corey Kendal, a third candidate for the House seat, did not respond to a request for an interview.

Kalamazoo County clerk Tim Snow also did not respond to Michigan Radio’s interview request. He told MLive that he regrets the mistake but is glad it was detected in time to fix it.

Maya Goldman is a newsroom intern for Michigan Radio. She is currently a student at the University of Michigan, where she studies anthropology and writing. During the school year, Maya also works as a senior news editor and podcast producer for The Michigan Daily.
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