Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Michigan absentee butterfly ballot?

1. October 2004 • Murph
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Local livejournaler juliandrago has posted a scan of part of his Michigan absentee ballot, which appears to have a fairly severe printing error: the candidate names and optical scan arrows in the “Presidential” section are suffering an off-by-one error which has the effect of either rendering the voter unable to vote for George W. Bush or causing voters who think they are voting for John Kerry to actually be voting for George W. Bush.

juliandrago is seeking others who have received a Michigan absentee ballot to see if this is a widespread phenomenon.

Update 4:15pm, Richard Murphy: It appears this is a known problem with some ballots. At the very least, Alma’s ballots were misprinted, and replacements are being mailed out. So far, though, the only media coverage this seems to have received is the LiveJournal post linked above, the Daily Kos (linked in comments to this post), and now here.



  1. According to a DailyKos comment, new ballots are being sent out, and these were sent to more than one county in Michigan.

    > link
       —Scott T.    Oct. 1 '04 - 12:42PM    #
  2. Well, and this politics.slashdot link:

    > Link
       —Scott T.    Oct. 1 '04 - 02:10PM    #
  3. It’s my ballot. I’m the one who started this ruckus. Apparently, it’s a small number of ballots that were affected; >70 according to Congressman Scott Hummel. Corrected ballots should be printed and mailed out within a week, (ibid).

    If you want to contact the company: 231-869-4349
       —Marissa Lafler    Oct. 2 '04 - 01:24PM    #
  4. I wrote to the Michigan Secretary of State, and they had this to say:

    Date: Mon, 4 Oct 2004 09:23:00 -0400
    From: SOSWebMaster
    To: willie northway
    Subject: RE: ballot mishap?

    Hello Willie,
    Greetings: This is in response to our recent email inquiry.

    The ballot printing error is confined to a single precinct in Michigan. A very limited number of absentee ballots containing the error were released before the error was spotted as explained below.

    On Monday, September 27, the clerk of the City of Alma received her ballots from her printer and filled her AV ballot requests.

    On Tuesday, a voter called the clerk to advise that she had spotted a printing error. The error: the arrows corresponding to the presidential candidates were shifted down one position. As a result, there is no arrow pointing to Bush/Cheney—and there is an extra arrow hanging off the bottom of the list. (The extra arrow points to the heading for the U.S. House race).

    The error is confined to one precinct (Precinct #1) in the City of Alma. The clerk further advised that the ballot containing the error was sent to a total of 69 voters.

    After learning of the error, the clerk contacted the printer and the Bureau of Elections. Arrangements have been made to reissue replacement ballots to the 69 voters as soon as corrected ballots can be obtained. The printer has advised the clerk to expect delivery on Monday, October 4.

    Thank you for writing. Please do not hesitate to call this office if you have any questions.

    Best Regards,

    Michigan Department of State
       —Willie    Oct. 4 '04 - 07:07AM    #