Big election mistake: 21,000 voters may not have received ballots


Update (6:30 pm):  Secretary of State’s Co-Director of Elections Katie Blinn and Shane Hamlin say, if the DOL thought it was sending data, they weren’t receiving it. 

Update (5:50 pm):  The Department of Licensing is refuting the facts as told by the Secretary of State’s office.  DOL spokeswoman Gigi Zenk says her department sent the Secretary of State’s office all the data.  “What the Secretary of State’s office has done with the information, only they can say,” Zenk said.

Zenk says the DOL can verify that it sent the information.  Stay tuned.

Original post:

The Washington Secretary of State’s office says it has just learned that some 21,000 voters may not have received ballots for tomorrow’s election.

The Secretary of State’s office says the problem involves the Department of Licensing.  When people renew or update their driver’s licenses online, the DOL launched a new Web site this year that allows people to register to vote or update their address at the same time.

But the Secretary of State’s office says it was never told about the program and didn’t know about it until someone in eastern Washington complained they didn’t get a ballot.  The Secretary of State’s staffers did some research and learned that the DOL had not been sending them the data from its new Web site.  That means none of the address changes or new voter registrations were passed along to county elections offices, which mail out the ballots.

The state says roughly 15,000 people updated their addresses; another 6,000 were new voter registrations. 

There could be a few potential problems here, beyond people who didn’t get their ballots.  The Secretary of State’s office says some people who moved may have had their ballots forwarded to them and may have the wrong ballot.

If you believe you’re one of those voters who registered on the Department of Licensing Web site, the state says you can go to your local county elections office or voting center, and cast a provisional ballot before the close of business tomorrow.  They will have to figure out later, which voters used the DOL Web site.

No comment so far tonight from the Department of Licensing.

Hamlin and Blinn say, they had discussions with DOL about setting up a new web-based service to transfer data, but there was never a communication that DOL was going to send data, or that the Secretary of State’s office was prepared to receive it. “We told them we weren’t going to use it until the end of the year,” Blinn says.