Some Montgomery County residents receive two absentee ballots -- Gazette.Net







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Last month’s election snafu might have caused a second round of confusion.

Some voters who were voting absentee received a second ballot.

“It’s a little disheartening,” Gaithersburg resident Dan Campos said. “You hear one thing, and you think OK it might be a mistake, and then you hear another thing and then another — [the election process] might be a little bit tainted.”

The absentee ballot has two pages, and when the ballots went out last month, some were sent out minus the second page — which included the seven statewide ballot questions.

Maryland law prevents the state Board of Elections from opening absentee ballots until the Thursday after the election. So the board weighed the ballots they had already received and determined that about 8 percent or less only contained one page, said Ross K. Goldstein, deputy administrator of the state Board of Elections.

The state and local board decided to resend the ballots just to the group in Montgomery County that was most likely affected, even though people who received a complete first ballot would be getting another one, Goldstein said.

“That was the cleanest and fastest way to get something out to everyone who could be affected,” he said.

Less than 5,000 residents received two ballots, said spokeswoman Marjorie Roher of the Montgomery County Board of Elections. She did not know the exact number that had been resent.

Only one ballot from each voter will be counted — the second ballot overrides the first, Roher said.

Goldstein said the return envelope of the second ballot has a special code so the board will know which ballot is the second. He said voters receiving a second ballot also received a sheet explaining why they were being sent a second ballot.

Campos’ first ballot was mailed while he was in Maryland. He submitted it Oct. 19. The second ballot arrived this week while he was in Indiana.

He said he received two complete ballots, but he did not get an explanation with the second one. He was told to destroy his second ballot when he called the Board of Elections office.

Campos, who ran for a Dist. 17 seat in the House of Delegates in 2010, said the problems make him skeptical of the validity of the voting process.

As of Monday morning, 45,131 people had requested absentee ballots in Montgomery County, Roher said.

The state Board of Elections is confident that any problems that may have existed have been addressed, Goldstein said.

“I think we have taken every reasonable step to make sure that voters have been well served,” Goldstein said.