Company explains ‘major error’ that led to half-million erroneous ballot applications in Virginia

The company that printed a half-million incorrect absentee ballot applications for people in Virginia apologized for its “major error,” saying the mistake was made because someone “incorrectly aligned a spreadsheet” that matched voters with their local registrar’s offices.

“We are keenly aware of the seriousness of this mistake,” said Jonathan Shapiro, CEO of Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Co.

The company printed the applications on behalf of the Center for Voter Information, a nonprofit civic engagement organization based in the District.

“The error was entirely ours,” said Shapiro.

“We added to the burden already felt by local election boards and made their jobs significantly harder. Worse, this error created confusion for voters who are trying to exercise their right to vote from home, safely and conveniently.”

Shapiro said the company has taken steps to “ensure that nothing like this can happen in future mailings.”

Potential voters across Virginia were confused this week when they received unsolicited ballot applications in the mail from the Center for Voter Information, encouraging them to vote in November.

Applications were sent to numerous locations, including Fairfax County.

The main problem with the applications was the fact that addresses on the return envelopes were incorrect, meaning a completed application would not make it to the proper registrar’s office.

Deb Wake, president of the voting-rights advocacy group the League of Women Voters of Virginia, urged anyone who received an unsolicited ballot application to throw it out and instead request one officially through the Virginia Department of Elections.

“It’s feeding into voter confusion,” Wake said.

Tom Lopach, CEO of the Center for Voter Information, told WTOP that his group takes “full responsibility” for what happened.

“We regret the confusion caused in this case,” said Lopach. “We’re working with local election officials to correct this and we’ll redouble our efforts to prevent any errors.”

Lopach added that “voting by mail is a safe and secure option for participating in our democracy.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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