SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Residents who vote by mail will be getting a new ballot mailed to them this week, since there was an error on the ballots they received last week.
Municipal and county officials scrambled over the weekend and earlier this week to correct the ballots, which according to South Orange Village Clerk Kevin Harris, listed two candidates running for village trustee seats in columns where the candidates for village president seats should be listed.
"We immediately reached out to the printer and the error was corrected and amended," said Harris about the error that was discovered over the weekend.
"A new vote by mail ballot was submitted to the county clerk which was mailed to all individuals on the vote by mail list," Harris said. "We apologize for any inconvenience, but we are taking steps to correct it."
Harris sent out a letter on Monday to the 766 residents living in South Orange that are on the vote-by-mail list.
"I respectfully request that you disregard the ballot previously sent," the letter reads. "Nothing regarding this error shall affect the Sample Ballots that shall be mailed soon showing the position of the candidates on the ballot or the position of the candidates on the voting machines for the May 14, 2019 Municipal Election."
Ballot errors are somewhat common and have made news headlines over the years for impacting elections. In February, the Connecticut Post reported that Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill requested the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission to investigate 18 election issues from the 2018 election.
The New York Times reported that many of the 43,000 vote-by-mail ballots that were mailed to Middlesex County residents for the 2018 Midterm Election had "erroneous address information."
Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin said that in Essex County ballot errors aren't that common, but noted that the South Orange error isn't the first time an error occurred in the county.
Durkin said issues have occurred with name misspellings and properly listing the number of years for a term. For example, he said, a one-year unexpired term might have been listed on a ballot but it should have been listed as a two-year unexpired term.
Regarding the South Orange error, Durkin said, "We're very fortunate that this mistake was caught early on."
He said the county clerk's office sent out the corrected vote-by-mail ballots to South Orange residents on Tuesday. Residents will receive another sample ballot in the mail seven days before the Municipal Election, which is scheduled for May 14. That sample ballot, Durkin said, serves as a last notice, reminding residents to vote.
Anyone with questions about the South Orange vote-by-mail ballots should call Village Clerk Kevin Harris at 973-378-7715, ext. 7722 or email him at email@example.com.