Candidate concerned about inaccurate vote count on absentee ballots
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - Republican absentee ballots in Indian River County are completely legal and just fine to use said the local elections official in response to allegations of flawed ballots.
Sandi Harpring, candidate for Indian River County Supervisor of Elections, questioned the competence of current Supervisor Leslie Swan because the layout of the Republican absentee ballots has a crease line through a candidate race.
Ms. Harpring said she was concerned the creases would result in voting miscounts or double counts, leading to many ballots not being counted.
The crease is on the line for Ms. Swan's race.
"It's not going to affect the election," Ms. Swan said in response to the allegations.
Ms. Swan said she and staff members took folded, unmarked ballots that had been returned to the elections office as undeliverable and ran them through the vote tabulation machine.
None of the ballots registered a vote where the crease was on a candidate line, Ms. Swan said.
"It did not register any votes. It was a stretch that a fold mark would be considered a vote," Ms. Swan said.
At a press conference on July 18, Jim Harpring, Ms. Harpring's husband and communications director, said the ballots had the potential to be flagged as over votes and removed from the count.
Ms. Swan said over, or double votes, are immediately kicked out of the tabulation machine and reviewed by three people on the canvassing board by hand to determine the intent of the voter.
After the Harpring campaign made their concerns public, Ms. Swan and her staff reviewed the pdf file she sent to an outside company for printing and mailing.
Her copies of the pdf files show digital lines where the elections office approved fold lines. Those lines were in a different place than the fold lines are currently on the Republican absentee ballot, Ms. Swan said.
"If they were trying to infer I intentionally did that, it's absurd," Ms. Swan said.
The Harpring campaign is recommending that people wishing to vote use absentee ballots not use the one they received in the mail, but to instead, go to the elections office and request a new ballot.
Ms. Swan said the ballots received in the mail will work without issue and if voters wish to come in and see proof that the pdf's sent to the printing and mailing company had the score lines in different places and the locations of the folds was unintentional, they are most welcome.
"We can only do what we can do on our end. Once we send it, we don't see them again," Ms. Swan said.