Pa. reaching out to more than 4,000 voters after glitch sends them two mail ballots

Bucks county voter Stephen Klein's double ballot. (Courtesy of Stephen Klein)

Bucks county voter Stephen Klein's double ballot. (Courtesy of Stephen Klein)

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Updated: 2:30 p.m. Thursday

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State employees are reaching out to up to 4,300 Pennsylvania voters who requested a mail ballot, after a computer glitch caused them to be sent two ballots by mistake.

Department of State spokesperson Ellen Lyon said Thursday the issue was due to a printing error.

“We are continuing to investigate and monitor this to see if other factors are contributing to this issue, and to prevent future duplicate ballots from going out,” Lyon said Thursday. “We are going to be using email and phone calls to contact the voters.”

It’s unclear exactly what parts of the state have been affected. Lyon did not respond to a request for details. But a spokesperson for Bucks County confirmed at least 1,091 voters there have received two ballots in their name and an official in Mifflin County said 108 voters were subject to the error. A seemingly similar printing issue caused some voters in Allegheny County to receive duplicate mail-in ballots during the primary in May.

State and county officials downplayed the significance of the problem, saying the system will not allow someone to vote twice.

“It is important to note that all the duplicate ballots are coded for the same voter, so if a voter tried to submit more than one, the system would literally prevent the second ballot from being counted – our system provides a hard stop that fully prevents this,” Lyon said.

Spokespeople for Chester and Montgomery counties said they were not aware of their voters receiving double ballots. A spokesperson for Delaware County said officials there were aware of one instance of the issue. Philadelphia City Commissioner Omar Sabir said Wednesday he was not aware of any voters in the city receiving double ballots.

Some voters who have received two ballots said such a major discrepancy has made an already anxious process much more stressful.

Stephen Klein, a 61-year-old who lives in Quakertown, received two ballots last Saturday. The Democrat said his first thought was that he was being set up to accidentally commit voter fraud.

“A recurring error shouldn’t happen in something so important, and presumably highly regulated,” Klein said.

Springtown resident Robin Staff also received two mail ballots. She asked an election official to destroy the second ballot before she submitted one, but the 68-year-old said she is now dealing with anxiety about whether her vote will count, despite assurances that it will.

“In this land of distrust and disinformation right now, it’s unnerving,” she said. “We should not have to deal with this.”

Robin Staff’s double ballots. (Courtesy of Robin Staff)

President Donald Trump has spent months attempting to sow doubt in the safety of voting by mail, despite there being no evidence to support his claims.

Recently, Trump has pointed to a Luzerne County election worker’s decision to discard nine absentee ballots as evidence of fraud. The state’s top election official has since said the decision was simply a mistake.

Democrats account for about two-thirds of the 2.8 million voters in Pennsylvania who requested mail ballots. Over 1.1 million voters have returned those ballots so far, with nearly three-quarters of them coming from Democrats.

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