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United Way of Lancaster County


Replacement of erroneous ballots under way; county will review procedures after primary

County Commissioner John Trescot speaks about the printing error discovered on primary ballots at a media conference at the County Government Center in Lancaster on Thursday, April 20, 2023. (Photo: Justin Stoltzfus)

The Lancaster County Board of Elections and Elections Office staff will review election operations after the May 16 primary elections to see what can be done to avoid ballot printing errors, Commissioner John Trescot said Thursday.

Possible improvements include hiring a proofreader; and posting sample ballots online before ballots are mailed, which would give the public a chance to spot errors.

Trescot hosted a media conference Thursday afternoon at the County Government Center to discuss the county’s latest ballot printing error, announced earlier this week.

Mail-in ballots began to be mailed Friday, but before the end of the day, one or more private citizens notified the county of a mistake: The ballots incorrectly tell voters to select only one candidate for Superior Court judge, rather than two.

News of the error pushed the county election office into full swing, Trescot said. Officials were able to recover some 85% of the more than 18,000 ballots that were scheduled to be mailed out.

“We immediately started contacting the U.S. Postal Service to stop those ballots from going out to voters,” the commissioner said.

About 3,000 incorrect ballots were mailed before the error was discovered. Voters who receive them should discard them and wait for a replacement ballot, which is coming.

Replacement mail-in ballots will be delivered in an envelope stamped “replacement” in red letters. The original erroneous ballots have been canceled in the electoral system and will not be accepted.

Trescot praised ballot vendor NPC, the post office and local citizens for their assistance in identifying and remedying the problem.

He noted the county’s problems with printing errors in prior elections, but said that the last November election went smoothly, with 45,000 ballots mailed in.

He anticipates that counting in the May 16 primary will go much faster than before, thanks to the county’s investment in 16 new high-speed scanners.

“I have great faith in the staff,” he said. “Everyone should be confident.”

“It’s a very normal thing,” he said of ballot errors. “It does happen that sometimes there’s an error… Everybody’s vote will be counted.”

Trescot, a Democrat, chairs the Board of Elections. The other two members are Judge Jeffery Wright and former county Solicitor Christina Hausner, serving temprarily instead of Trescot’s fellow commissioners, Republicans Josh Parsons and Ray D’Agostino, who are seeking re-election.

Trescot is not running. He was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Commissioner Craig Lehman and will step down at the beginning of next year.