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Santa Clara election workers use erasers to clean mail ballots

11:34 AM, Nov 2, 2010   |    comments
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. (BCN) - An ink smudge on Santa Clara County ballots caused a mechanical glitch at the county elections office last week, forcing officials to reprocess mail-in ballots and re-inspect ballots being sent to polling precincts for Tuesday's election.

About one in six of the first 100,000 vote-by-mail ballots processed were incorrectly flagged by an "optical character reader" as ballots containing write-in candidates, county officials said.

The error was the result of the smudge, which was caused by toner used by the company that printed the ballots, elections officials said.

"We noticed that a higher number of ballots than usual were being set aside by the OCR," said Jesse Durazo, Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters. "Upon reviewing those ballots, they did not contain write-in candidates, so we knew there must be another reason."

Workers erased the marks then reprocessed them.

Ballots stored at the registrar's warehouse were re-inspected, and the toner smudges were erased by hand before the ballots were delivered to polling places.

About 235,000 vote-by-mail ballots will be counted in the first results to be released later Tuesday.

County elections officials are predicting that high voter turnout and a lengthy ballot - about 70 percent of the county's ballots are in sets of three ballot cards - will delay the final tally until early Wednesday morning.

 

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