The Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners held an emergency meeting on Tuesday morning after it was discovered that an alderman race in Altheimer was left off the general election ballot.
The commissioners voted to approve a corrected ballot at the meeting so that the information could be sent to the company that prepares the necessary software to reload the voting machines before the November 6 general election.
“I am responsible,” Commissioner Stuart Soffer said. “The buck stops with me.”
Alderman Ward 2, Position 1 in Altheimer has three candidates: Samuel L. Kelley, Sheron Burton and Kim Love. Soffer said the error was discovered on Monday when one of them went to the courthouse to early vote.
The affected precincts are 610 and 620, and Soffer said County Clerk Shawandra Taggart had informed him that there are “not a lot of voters” in those two precincts.
A total of five ballots had been cast for residents in the affected precincts, the clerk’s office reported on Monday. Soffer said the clerk’s office was contacting those five people by telephone, in order to give them an opportunity to come back and vote in the alderman race.
After the error was discovered, Soffer said Election Coordinator Barbara Douglas and Election Clerk Julie Kendrick conducted a drawing for ballot positions among the three candidates and created paper ballots for early voting.
“We could get the ballots redone (for the voting machines by Nov. 6) but they would have to be zeroed out and reset, and the clerk said she would go with paper ballots since so few people would vote,” Soffer said.
Those paper ballots will be placed in a metal lock box, which Soffer said he bought.
“I understand the sense of urgency, but was the ballot draw with the commissioners absent appropriate?” Election Commissioner Ted Davis asked.
“Any delay would have caused more problems for the clerk,” Commission Chairman Mike Adam said.
Davis then questioned the legality of the ballot draw, since the commission traditionally handles that job themselves before an election.
Soffer responded that the ballot draw was conducted by two people whose duties involve preparing for an election and who were under the guidance of an election commissioner. Both Adam and Soffer voted to approve ballot drawing and the amended general election ballot; Davis abstained.