Computer system error blamed for duplicate ballots

Approximately 5,000 duplicate ballots were erroneously mailed to some voters in Riverside County.  A computer system error mistakenly generated duplicate mailing files for 5,000 voters. The computer system error was identified over the weekend; however, the ballot packets were already delivered to the U.S. Postal Service.

“It is important to note that none of the duplicate ballots will result in a voter being able to cast more than one ballot,” said Registrar of Voters Rebecca Spencer. “I take election integrity seriously and apologize for the inconvenience.”

Each vote-by-mail envelope has a bar code. When the bar code is scanned as accepted at the Registrar of Voters office it automatically locks the voter’s record so that the voter can only vote once. If a voter who received two ballots returned both ballots, only one ballot would count. The first ballot received would be processed and the second ballot would be automatically voided.

The Riverside County Registrar of Voters office recommends that any voters who receive two ballots should vote and return one of the ballots, then destroy the second ballot. It does not matter which ballot the voter returns as both ballots are the same. The affected voters live in the areas of Canyon Lake, Menifee, Murrieta, Wildomar and Winchester.

The computer system error is resolved, and procedures have been put in place to prevent the error in the future. Voters with questions or concerns regarding their ballot are asked to call the Riverside County Registrar of Voters at (951) 486-7200.

The error comes as sensationalist claims have circulated this election season about the extent of voter fraud, with some politicians going so far as to tell voters to fear that this November’s election will be “rigged,.” according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Because electoral integrity is one of the elements necessary to making America the greatest democracy in the world, claims like this garner media attention, and frighten and concern voters. But putting rhetoric aside to look at the facts makes clear that fraud by voters at the polls is vanishingly rare and does not happen on a scale even close to that necessary to “rig” an election.

The Brennan Center’s seminal report on this issue, The Truth About Voter Fraud, found that most reported incidents of voter fraud are actually traceable to other sources, such as clerical errors or bad data matching practices. The report reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud and found incident rates between 0.0003% and 0.0025%. Given this tiny incident rate for voter impersonation fraud, it is more likely, the report noted, that an American “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.”


Image Sources

  • Duplicate ballots: Shutterstock