Vanderburgh Co. discarded 159 early-voting ballots during midterm elections

Vanderburgh Co. discarded 159 mail-in ballots during midterm elections
Vanderburgh Co. discarded 159 mail-in ballots during midterm elections
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:11 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - On November 8, election winners celebrated, about five hours after the polls closed.

Now, we’re learning over 150 early-voting ballots weren’t counted.

Clerk of the Circuit Court Carla Hayden says the teams in charge of counting those ballots realized quickly there was an issue.

“Those ballots were ones that the teams had looked at on election day,” says Hayen, “and determined that there was not two sets of initials on those.”

Hayden says it’s a serious issue.

“According to Indiana law, if there’s not two sets of initials, which is one Republican, one Democrat, then that ballot has to be tossed out,” says Hayden.

Hayden says these kinds of errors are something they try to avoid with training and clear instructions, but they know accidents still happen.

Still, 159 votes being thrown out? She says that’s a punch in the gut.

“We think we have everything in place, and of course something like this shows there’s still work to be done, so we’re still discussing some of that. We’re going to look at some of these, and see if we can see a pattern, maybe with a certain poll worker, or a couple of poll workers, and not invite them back,” says Hayden.

Vanderburgh County uses “voter-verified paper audit trail,” or “VVPAT.”

The voter seals their ballot and drops it in an envelope. Then, they drop it into a box to be opened by bipartisan teams on election day.

Without those signatures, they had to be thrown out.

Hayden says legally they don’t have to tell you or do anything with it, they just simply are thrown out.

The only way they come back into play would be if a recount is enacted. So far, no candidates or parties have requested that.

Those early votes aren’t opened and checked until election day under our current system.

Hayden says she would like to see a system where as soon as you vote, it can be checked and entered.

Ideally, that would speed up the wait time for election results, and there’s the potential of getting an invalid ballot fixed, unlike the ones in this election, where nothing could be done once the error was realized.