Thousands of Kentuckians get absentee ballots with error; official says to cast them anyway

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Thousands of Kentuckians received absentee primary ballots containing an error because of a computer glitch, and some of them worried their votes would not count — or worse, that they might be in legal trouble.

Mary Stephany Meadows goes by her middle name, but on the ballot she received, her middle initial was “Y.”

“I thought it’s gonna go back to … the place that it goes to and then they’re going to toss it because it doesn’t match,” she said.

She also worried she might be in danger of committing a crime.

“Maybe I’d gotten the wrong ballot and here I’m going to sign something that says, got the KRS saying it’s a class D felony if you don’t put the right name on here, and it made me a little nervous.”

Thousands of Kentuckians got ballots with a wrong middle initial, a coding error from the computer that handles ballot requests on the state portal.

Nore Ghibaudy, spokesman for Jefferson County Board of Elections, said the coding error pulled the last letter from people’s middle names — rather than the first.

But, Ghibaudy said, people need not worry, because their votes will still count.

He urged voters with the middle initial error in their absentee ballots to cast them, because voters will not be given a second ballot, if they show up in person.

Absentee ballots were available to all voters in the primary because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And they proved popular. Ghibaudy said that in a typical election, voters request 1,200 absentee ballots. This year, more than 200,000 voters did.

Jefferson County for the first time also is dealing with just one primary voting location, though square footage and weather are not a problem in the air conditioned south wing of the Kentucky Exposition Center, with 18 legislative districts lined out.

The center has been open for early in-person voting since Monday, and will remain open Friday, Monday and Tuesday, which has prevented long lines that some other states have experienced.

Meadows said that for the November election, she’ll be going to a voting location in person.

Ghibaudy said he understands.

“I’m with her,” he said. “I’d like to vote at a regular polling location if things are all good this fall and it’s safe.”

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