An election volunteer’s error at a Morgan Hill voting center over the weekend resulted in some voters receiving the wrong ballots, but authorities say the issue was quickly resolved.

While the hiccup only affected five voters that election officials are aware of, it is unknown if any submitted the wrong ballot before alerting precinct staff of the error.

Late in the morning of Oct. 31, city staff were notified that a Morgan Hill resident went to vote at the Sobrato High School voting center, but he was provided with a voter card for a Palo Alto precinct, reads a press release from the City of Morgan Hill.

City staff “immediately” notified the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters of the error, reads the press release. Officials from the registrar’s office determined that the issue was caused by “human error,” as a vote center staff member entered the incorrect precinct number when each of the five voters requested ballots.

The registrar’s office contacted the Sobrato High vote center and sent a staff member to the site to ensure the volunteer understood how to correctly enter the precinct number, according to city staff.

The registrar’s office has not yet responded to a phone call requesting additional information.

Morgan Hill resident Mac Jones posted on a local Facebook community page that he was one of the voters impacted by the error, which happened when he requested an electronic touchscreen ballot. Voters casting ballots at county voting centers have the option to fill out a paper or electronic ballot.

At 11:32am Oct. 31, Jones posted on the Morgan Hill Community Group page, “When I asked to do the touchpad (electronic) voting it did not give the local candidate voting options. Instead it had me voting (in) Palo Alto and districts that I do not live in. I switched to a paper ballot and was able to vote in our local district.”

Jones’ post continued to state that one of the election volunteers at Sobrato said he was the first voter who mentioned such a problem at 10am Oct. 31.

City of Morgan Hill spokeswoman Maureen Tobin said “at least three” of the affected voters caught the mistake before submitting their ballots, and were thus able to obtain and fill out the correct ballot. It is possible that “one or two people” cast incorrect ballots at the Morgan Hill voting site. “But we don’t know for sure,” Tobin added.

Tobin added that the registrar’s office told city staff that voters who submitted an incorrect ballot due to the poll worker’s error will not be able to recall their vote or cast a new ballot from the correct precinct.

Many of the Nov. 3 General Election races—including national, statewide and some regional and county choices—appear on all ballots in Santa Clara County regardless of the precinct. However, races specific to Morgan Hill—including mayor, two city council seats and a school district trustee’s seat—would not appear on a ballot for a precinct in Palo Alto or any other city.

Steve Chappell, who is running for mayor of Morgan Hill as a write-in candidate, hopes the registrar’s office will be held accountable if any voters were disenfranchised by being given the wrong ballot.

“Even if it is claimed to be ‘only’ one or two (voters), this is voter tampering by the ROV,” Chappell replied in an email to the city and ROV, which he shared with the Times. “This is essentially the ROV engaging in voter tampering by supplying incorrect ballots, allowing them to be cast, recognizing the issue, then not allowing those votes to be corrected.”

Chappell, who is the administrator for the Morgan Hill Community Group page on Facebook, said he has asked the city attorney’s office to investigate further.

The city’s Oct. 31 email urged voters to examine their ballots before filling them out, in order to ensure they are provided with the correct ballots when voting at any county voting centers.

Voters can report any election- or ballot-related issues or concerns to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters office at (408) 299-8683. Issues related to a specific vote center can call (408) 299-7655.

For more information about the Nov. 3 election, including vote center locations, visit the city’s elections website.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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