The ballots of nearly 800 Boone County voters were not counted until Thursday morning, after election night confusion left them mixed among other materials, County Clerk Wendy Noren said.
“It was a serious breakdown of our procedures,” Noren said, accepting responsibility for the mistake. “Although we have checks to this on election night, it did not pick them up. And that is a serious problem.”
The ballots from voters in Precinct 6C, whose polling place is located at Shepard Boulevard Elementary, were misplaced with books used to check in voters and were not discovered until 9 a.m. Thursday. Noren described the mix-up as “everybody’s worst nightmare” but said the votes did not alter the outcome of any race.
Noren said the error was discovered in a routine post-election check of supplies. The ballots were then counted by a team of bipartisan judges.
“Although we have four or five steps, for some reason each one of those steps broke down,” Noren said.
Before Thursday, the only votes that were recorded for Precinct 6C were absentee ballots, Noren said.
Terri Durdaller, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Matt Blunt, said election ballots won’t be certified until Aug. 24, so changes can still be made to the returns. She said the mistake does not hurt the confidence her office has in Boone County’s election process.
“The secretary of state’s office is pleased that the county clerk caught and corrected this oversight, and we don’t believe it is indicative of any problems with the election process in Boone County,” Durdaller said.
She said any recommendations for procedural changes should be left to Noren and would not come from Blunt’s office.
“That position is elected by the people of Boone County,” Durdaller said. “So, it’s not as if it’s an appointed position by the state. It is up to her to make sure the election runs smoothly.”
Noren said she typically checks all ballot returns carefully, but found herself doing a little too much on hectic election night.
“I feel like I was pulled several ways before I did it,” Noren said.
A review of the election-night supplies and equipment will be conducted before voters head to the polls again, Noren said.
“We’ll be looking at both supplies and oversight to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Noren said.