Ballots printed again

LAWRENCEVILLE - Gwinnett officials reprinted 19,000 absentee ballots after officials found a problem with the forms.

Officials, though, say the issue won't interfere with votes being counted in the Nov. 4 election.

Elections Superintendent Lynn Ledford said officials discovered while testing routine equipment two weeks prior to the election that the ovals voters use to mark their choices are too thick for the optical scanning machines to read.

Ledford said new requests for absentee ballots are being filled with the correct forms, but people who have already received their ballots can either fill them in and return them to the elections office in Lawrenceville by 7 p.m. Nov. 4 or bring the ballot to their polling place and vote electronically. Of the 19,000 ballots mailed to voters, 10,000 have already been returned.

The flawed ballots can still be administered using a method where members of each party monitor the transference of votes onto the new ballot form.

Officials will keep both ballots - which are marked with corresponding codes - if the results are audited.

"With the climate the way it is, we want to ensure that there are no improprieties," Ledford said, adding that the monitors will include a representative from the Secretary of State's Office and the group will be sequestered on Election Day. "We don't want to jeopardize the integrity of the votes themselves."

Ledford said officials from both parties and candidates affected have been notified. The error was discovered in testing performed last week, but the law requires officials to test the equipment up to three days before the election.

"We're glad we discovered it early enough that we were able to correct the problem," she said, adding that she does not expect results to be delayed. "That's why we test to make sure we don't have problems Election Day."