The elections department in Flathead County, Montana, said that it sent out the wrong number of ballots to an unknown number of voters during Tuesday's election.
“The Flathead County Election Office acknowledges this oversight raises concerns regarding a safe and accurate election process,” Flathead County Public Information Officer Kim Grieser said in the release. “The elections department is fully aware of the gravity of the situation and is unwaveringly committed to ensuring error-free execution of our elections.”
Ms. Grieser added that the county will now "review, check, and double-check procedures," saying it will initiate updates to prevent a similar issue. The error only impacted the election in Kalispell city in which several candidates are running for three council seats.
"This serves as a poignant reminder of the paramount importance of maintaining the public’s trust in our electoral system and upholding the fundamental principles of fairness and transparency in all we do," the release said.
The county's election chief, Adrienne Chmelik, told the paper on Tuesday that officials discovered the problem last week and attempted to determine the cause of the problem and how many voters were impacted. However, that information was not disclosed in the report, and officials said that they couldn't do anything after the ballots were already mailed out.
“In late 2021, Kalispell changed its ward boundaries and that didn’t get plugged into our precinct maps,” Ms. Chmelik said. “So when we loaded the new ward boundaries, some voters didn’t get loaded into their correct wards."
“We are doing ou[r] best to figure out what happened,” she continued. “I don’t think the county has been in this position before nor have we, so can’t really say what we will do. But right now, we’re focused on tallying every vote.
“I think it’s critically important that people understand this isn’t fraudulent. I hear that word used a lot and used incorrectly. There is nothing fraudulent about what happened in this process,” she said. “It clearly was an administrative error related to data entry or data entry not happening. So I just want to ensure people that elections are safe; we will walk this process out.”
Other 2023 IssuesIn Mississippi, there were reports of widespread problems in Hinds County, including claims that precincts ran out of ballots, which left some voters waiting in line for several hours. Notably, Mississippi had a number of statewide elections for Tuesday, including for the governor's seat.
“We’re running ballots as we speak because we’re trying to make sure every voter gets a chance to come out and cast their ballot for the people of their choice,” Hinds County District 5 Election Commissioner Shirley Varando told local media. She blamed the ballot problem on an “unexpectedly large turnout"
The incident drew criticism from officials in Mississippi. State House Rep. Kent McCarty, a Republican, criticized Hinds County officials for the issue.
In Harris County, Texas, there were also reports of scanner problems at some precincts on Election Day, according to an official.
“We spoiled some ballots, took them off the rolls, and said if you want to do that you can go to another location that’s five minutes away,” she added.