A small number of voters received the wrong ballot when they went to cast their vote at some of Montgomery County’s early voting centers, County election officials said Wednesday.
Since early voting centers are open to all citizens, regardless of the precinct they are registered in, voting staff must identify the correct “ballot style” for each voter when they check into the polls.
Votes cast for congressional races in the third, sixth and eighth districts could have been affected, but not any other race.
“We have received several complaints of sporadic instances of this occurring,” said Marjorie Roher, a Montgomery County Board of Elections spokesperson. “It certainly is not in any case widespread as far as we know.”
In all, Roher said she was only aware of less than a dozen occurrences.
“But as far as we know, all of the issues were caught before the ballots were scanned,” she said.
“This won’t be a factor on Election Day because voters must go to their designated precincts,” Roher said.
Roher said election officials received complaints from voters at the Mid-County Recreation Center and the Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad early voting centers.
Former Montgomery County election board member Jerry Garson said he heard of several voters at the Potomac Recreation Center who had also received the wrong ballot.
Garson is an official observer for Rep. John Delaney’s (D-6) campaign.
Garson said on the first day of early voting, some voters after checking in stepped into the wrong line when they went to retrieve their ballots.
He also said he believes the lighting conditions could have affected staff possibly misreading an identifier on the registration card that designates the voter’s ballot.
“They give out little pieces of paper that have your name on it and fairly small print that tells you what congressional district you’re in,” Garson recalled. “The lighting isn’t perfect in the rooms. Some of these people probably didn’t notice they gave out the wrong ballot.”
Garson said either the voter could have been distracted or a human error was made by election staff.
“No one is 100 percent perfect,” Garson said. “The weather people can’t even always predict the weather for the next four hours.”
Election officials in Potomac recorded 13,114 early votes through Tuesday.
“I only heard of three people saying this, but I’m not sure if everyone would know they got the wrong ballot,” Garson said.
Roher said as soon as the election director heard of the complaints, election officials asked early voting center managers to review procedures with both the check-in judges and ballot judges.
In one case, Roher said, tables were moved to avoid any further confusion of handling an incorrect ballot.
Roher said poll workers occasionally make mistakes but equally important is voters should be prepared when they vote.
“We send out the sample ballots and people should be reviewing that,” Roher said. “Folks should know who they want to vote for when they get to the polling place. Once they put the ballot in the scanner, they have voted.”