Pinal County officials explain their two-ballot solution after ballots were misprinted

Pinal County officials described their two-ballot solution for the primary after human error led to more than 60,000 misprinted ballots.
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 2:15 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Pinal County officials have started an awareness campaign Monday afternoon to help voters understand new supplemental ballots created as a fix after a “human error” caused 60,000 bad ballots to be sent out in early July. Those registered voters impacted by the mistake will have to fill out a municipal-only ballot since the original ballot that was sent out didn’t have those races.

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors approved this plan on Wednesday, and the municipal ballots were finished printing on Friday. On Saturday, the municipal-only ballots were sent out, and on Monday, they were hand-delivered to the different voting sites. The municipal ball has a large orange band on the top, which is different from the other ballot, which has a small red band on the right corner. “I can’t stress this enough. You must fill out both of these ballots,” said Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer.

For those who went to an early voting site already and filled out a misprinted ballot, they have to go back to that site and fill out the municipal-only ballot. The tens of thousands of bad ballots were sent to seven cities and towns, including Apache Junction, Casa Grande, Eloy, Mammoth, Maricopa, Queen Creek, and Superior. Officials said that the wrong information was put into the computer system that creates the ballots. “There is nothing wrong with the system. There is nothing wrong with the machines. This is just a person who made a typographical error. I think we’re all human. We’ve all made a mistake before. This just happens to fall under the perfect set of circumstances,” said Volkmer.

He said there are methods put in place, so there isn’t double voting or casting a municipal-only ballot that they shouldn’t have. “We have robust protocols in place to ensure that the integrity of the election is not going to be questioned,” said Volkmer.

Pinal County elections director David Frisk took full responsibility for the mistake when it was discovered. “This was not a system glitch or a computer error or anything nefarious. It was no fault of anyone in the recorder’s office; it’s my mistake,” Frisk said.

“It was short so many names,” Thomas George said. At 95 years young, the WWII veteran knew there was something wrong with the early voting ballot that came in the mail. “Everything that happens now seems like its not thought through enough,” he said.

Still the Apache Junction homeowner said he filled it out and mailed it in. Like the rest of the impacted voters, he’ll receive that second, supplemental ballot.

To keep things uniform, the county said moving forward, everyone in the impacted areas will fill out two ballots when they vote. The county also approved 100 additional poll workers for Primary Day. They estimate will cost the county more than $100,000. “The machine that is designed to read this ballot will not read this ballot,” Volkmer said. “The question is would it delay things, a little bit, but we’re talking a matter of minutes, not hours, not days, nothing like that.”

Volkmer acknowledges there was a recent change in staff at the Elections Department, whether that led to the mistake is unclear they said. It will be part of their full investigation, which is done after the election.

George questions all of it. “It’s haphazard, I don’t think its enough getting into it, so the people can understand what’s happening,” George said.

County officials said people should be receiving these supplement ballots in the next couple of days. They’ve already been delivered to early voting sites.