Some people have likely already cast a vote that won’t be counted.
The apparent suicide of Republican state House candidate Derek Jerome in the 79th District forced election officials to reprint13,300 ballots for voters in his district to use at the polls on Nov. 4.
But it was too late for those who have already voted by absentee ballot.
Republican Registrar Ellie Klapatch said that absentee votes for Jerome, whose name appears on the first run of ballots, won’t be counted.
Election officials also had to send the counting machine memory cards to a Massachusetts company to have them reprogrammed to take into account the change in the 79th District’s Republican candidate.
The GOP’s decision to name a successor candidate for the position, David L. Norton, had no impact on the necessity to reprint ballots, officials said.
“They were going to have to reprint all the ballots anyway,” said city Republican Chairman T.J. Barnes.
Barnes and Klapatch said that if the party hadn’t named Norton to take Jerome’s place, the new ballots would simply have had an empty slot for the Republicans in the race against incumbent state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Democrat.
It isn’t clear how much the scramble to fix the ballots and reprogram memory cards is costing taxpayers, though it certainly reaches into the thousands of dollars.
Klapatch said that the federal government is picking up the tab for ballots this year – part of a national effort to modernize voting – so city taxpayers don’t have to cover the expense, as they normally would.
She said she has “no ideas” how much the reprinting will cost.
It’s not clear yet whether the absentee ballots that include Jerome’s name can be counted by machines or if they’ll have to be counted by hand, Klapatch said. The city clerk and the secretary of state are looking into it.
Klapatch said that the changes required “a lot of extra work” by many officials, including her office and the city clerk’s office.
But, she said, she appreciates “the team effort” by everyone involved to speed the work along so that it would be done in plenty of time for Election Day.“I’m amazed we got all this done,” Klapatch said.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
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