Wrong GOP U.S. Senate candidate appeared on early ballots in Schuyler County
RUSHVILLE, Ill. — Election officials in Schuyler County printed the wrong name of the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate on several hundred ballots, forcing the officials Wednesday to keep the ballots separate from all others being cast in the Nov. 8 general election.
The error in Schuyler County could lead to several dozen votes in the Senate race being disregarded, an Illinois State Board of Elections spokesperson said. Republican U.S. Senate nominee Kathy Salvi labeled the misprint a “problem of election integrity and transparency,” but Schuyler County Clerk Mindy Garrett said there was no ill intent.
“This has nothing to do with voter fraud. It was human error. We all make mistakes,” said Garrett, who is a Democrat.
The ballot incorrectly listed Peggy Hubbard, who ran in the GOP primary but lost to Salvi, as the Republican Senate nominee. Hubbard finished second statewide in the primary but defeated Salvi in Schuyler County, receiving 396 votes to Salvi’s 170.
The incorrect ballot had been used by 45 early voters across the county, Garrett said. Any votes for Peggy Hubbard among those 45 will be disregarded, state elections board spokesperson Matt Dietrich said. It would be impossible to connect the votes on the incorrect ballots with specific voters, he said.
“Once you vote and you put that ballot into the tabulator, there is no way that that ballot can be traced back to an individual voter. That’s by design. Anonymity is a very important part of the election process,” Dietrich said.
Garrett said she does not expect any of the45 voters who cast the ballots with Hubbard’s namewould be able to change their vote, though those ballots were separated in case something changes, she said. Votes on the incorrect ballots for other correctly listed candidates, including incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Libertarian candidate Bill Redpath and candidates in all other races will still count, she added.
Of the 307 mail-in ballots that had been sent to Schuyler County voters, 155 had been returned to county election officials. However, the 155 returned ballots have not yet been processed, meaning voters will have the opportunity to use a corrected ballot to vote, Garrett said.
The county is resending corrected ballots to all people who received incorrect ballots and notifying them of the mistake, Garrett said.
“Whatever the last ballot that we receive from them will be what is tabulated,” Garrett said.
Garrett would not detail how the mistake was made. County election administrators checked over ballots before they were printed, but somehow missed the mistake, she said.
Salvi called for “accountability at the county level” in a Wednesday news release.
“Illinois voters need to have confidence in our elections and this unacceptable error does absolutely nothing to provide that comfort,” she said.
Illinois Republican Party representatives echoed Salvi’s criticism.
“There’s no true reset or remedy. Votes have been cast on ballots that did not contain the Republican nominee for Senate … that’s inexcusable,” Illinois GOP spokesperson James Zenn said.
Salvi faces an uphill battle against the better-funded Duckworth.
Salvi’s statement claimed State Board of Elections officials approved the inaccurate ballot, but Dietrich said the state board certified a correct ballot that included Salvi’s name.
“This error was a printing error that happened at the local level. Once we’ve certified the ballot, we don’t have any involvement,” Dietrich said.
The state Republican party agrees that the mistake was made by Schuyler County officials, not the state elections board, Zenn said.
While there’s no reason Hubbard’s name should have been on the ballot, Dietrich said the county clerk’s office took corrective action as soon as the mistake was caught.
“This has nothing to do with election fraud. This has to do with a simple proofing mistake,” Dietrich said.
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