Summit County Clerk Kathleen Neel said she is living out her worst nightmare.
The county’s top elections official announced Tuesday that a “misunderstanding” with the county’s Denver-based printer resulted in voters in Breckenridge, Blue River, Dillon, Silverthorne and Copper Mountain receiving the wrong ballots for the November election. For example, Neel said Breckenridge voters received ballots with Dillon questions.
Approximately 20,000 mail-in ballots were sent out shortly after midnight Tuesday. Residents in Frisco and unincorporated Summit County, which represents the majority of registered voters, received the correct ballots. However, 7,000 of the ballots were wrong, Neel said.
“An error has occurred,” she said. “We know about it; we’re taking care of it, and we will get the correct ballots to them.”
The county clerk’s office learned about the issue when a voter called the office to complain she had the wrong ballot questions. Neel said no one else has called to complain as of yet.
Neel said new ballots are being ordered and will be shipped to voters by the Oct. 18 deadline mandated by state law.
“When something goes wrong it’s ugly,” she said, “but we’re doing everything we can to get it straightened out.”
She urges anyone who has received an incorrect ballot to call her office at (970) 453-3471. Early voting starts on Oct. 28. The general election is on Nov. 5.
All registered Summit County voters can expect to receive a ballot in the mail thanks to the passage of Colorado House Bill 13-1303, which converted all voters on “inactive” status to “active.” In recent elections, such as the 2012 general election, voters who did not participate in a primary were classified as inactive and therefore did not automatically receive a ballot for the November election.
Although the new law does away with “inactive” status, Neel said there are residents who may not automatically receive a ballot in the mail because of inaccurate or old addresses in the county database.
“I think the most important point I want to get across is if a voter does not receive their ballot by Oct. 21, they should contact us so we can verify that their address is up to date and make arrangements to get a ballot to them,” Neel said.
Neel has worked in the county clerk’s office since 1995. She was appointed to the head position in 2009 and won the 2010 election.
Staff reporter Joe Moylan contributed to this report.