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Absentee ballots did not include local proposal

Ranked Choice Voting being considered by Lansing City Council
Posted at 7:34 PM, Feb 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-12 06:34:27-05

LANSING, Mich. — There's an error on absentee ballots just 28 days before Michigan's primary election.

East Lansing City Clerk Jennifer Shuster says she found out about the problem on Friday.

"Some of the ballots for East Lansing Precinct 17 did not include an Ingham Intermediate School District (ISD) ballot question that should have been on those ballots," she said.

145 ballots did not include a proposal from Ingham ISD.

The millage would generate $2.3 million for special education students.

"Any time there's an error like this, you always want to make sure that you have the right types of conversations that hopefully will be remedied and there won't be any further challenges, and so we just want to welcome those types of conversations," said Jason Mellema, Ingham ISD superintendent.

Mellema says, so far, he hasn't heard from the city clerk.

He actually found out about the mistake through the media.

According to Shuster, there is plenty of time to send out new ballots.

"There is just under a month til this election, plenty of time to rectify this situation with each and every voter," said Shuster.

"It seems as though it's under control so we're not necessarily concerned at this point," said Mellema.

While 145 votes is relatively small, East Lansing has seen some close races in the past.

"In November, we had a city election and our third council seat was within two votes. So that tells me right there every single vote does matter," said Shuster.

The error comes during an election that's already busier than normal.

So far, East Lansing has sent out more than 2,000 absentee ballots.

Like other clerks, Shuster is worried about having enough time to count the votes.

"We only have one day to process those ballots. We have implemented new equipment such as two high-speed scanners that tabulate those ballots, and with this election, the March presidential primary election, we are implementing an adjudication system that will make that process even more efficient," said Shuster.

The City of East Lansing says that Precinct 17 voters are being alerted to the following:
- Voters who have already voted and returned their AV ballot can re-vote with the new replacement ballots they receive and return them to the City Clerk’s office following the instructions.
- Voters who have not yet voted should vote using the new replacement ballots going out this week and return them to the City Clerk’s office following the instructions.
- Only one AV ballot per voter will be counted.
- If a voter chooses not to re-vote and re-submit the replacement ballot, their original voted ballot will be counted.
- Voters who do re-submit the replacement AV ballot should fill out all portions of the ballot that they wish to vote on, as the original ballot from the same voter will be spoiled once the re-voted ballot is received.

Those 145 voters will receive new ballots in the mail along with instructions on how to fill them out.

If you aren't sure if you are part of this precinct, check the boundary map here.

You can also contact the East Lansing City Clerk’s office at (517) 319-6914.

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