When errors happen, keep faith in the election process

Well, so much for questions about whether enormous mistakes may occur in handling presidential election ballots. One already has.

It was reported last week that nearly 50,000 — 50,000! — voters in Franklin County, Ohio, received incorrect mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election. The county is home to Ohio’s capital, Columbus.

Franklin County election officials mailed out about 240,000 ballots. But, they said, someone made a mistake in changing the setting on a machine used to insert ballots into envelopes. As a result, nearly 50,000 people received ballots including the wrong congressional race for where they lived.

So much for the bad news. Now the good news. Once the mistake was noticed, the Franklin County Board of Elections acted quickly to rectify the error. Postcards were to be mailed to all the affected voters, letting them know of the problem and telling them what they can do about it. One option is for them to vote in person, either through Ohio’s early voting program or on Election Day. Another is to obtain the correct ballot for where they live.

Officials said safeguards are in place to ensure people can vote only once.

Why should anyone believe the elections board? Because it and every other county elections board in Ohio includes representatives of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

Bipartisan management of elections is a powerful tool against fraud. But, as last week’s revelation reminds us, it is no guarantee against human (or machine) error.

We assume you plan to participate in the Nov. 3 election. Perhaps, through early voting or a mail-in ballot, you already have. Keep this in mind: You and tens of millions of voters like you are the front line against election errors and fraud. If you notice or hear of something that doesn’t sound right, notify election officials — and, just to be safe, local Democratic or Republican Party leaders.

Mistakes will happen. But Americans simply must be able to have faith in the process — especially this year.


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