‘Human error’ leads to some Fairfax Co. voters getting two ballots in mail

Some voters in Fairfax County are seeing double as mail-in ballots arrive in their mailboxes. They are receiving two ballots instead of one, due to what elections officials say was a mistake made during the labeling process.

Maurisa Potts told WTOP she and her husband both received two ballots.

“It was definitely concerning … to receive four ballots,” Potts said, who explained that this is the first year she has voted by mail.

Fairfax County Elections Director Gary Scott told WTOP after investigating his office discovered what happened.

“The short answer: it was due to human error,” Scott said.

CLICK TO EXPAND: Maurisa Potts and her husband each got two mail-in ballots. (Courtesy Maurisa Potts)

He said it happened during the labeling process, which is done by hand. Scott said labels must sometimes be reprinted because they were damaged or printed incorrectly, but only full sheets of labels can be reprinted. The mistakes took place when all the labels on the sheet were used, instead of just the ones which needed to be redone. Then, one ballot will receive identical mailing labels.

Scott said it’s believed fewer than 1,000 voters received two ballots. He also said there are controls in place to prevent any attempts to double-vote — each ballot has a bar code that must be scanned once it is returned.

“If a second ballot comes back when we scan it in, the system is going to tell us we’ve already had a returned ballot, so that second ballot would be set aside and voided,” Scott said.

The mailing error was first reported by NBC Washington. Potts said she plans to still use her ballot, but she questioned whether she should reconsider and vote in person instead.

“When I received it, it gave us pause,” she said.


Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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