Registrar of Voters Admits More Mistakes for Mail-in Ballots

Just weeks after the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters re-printed a slew of sample ballots missing entire races and candidate info, the agency has to deal with another batch of faulty election literature.

Earlier this month, the county had to re-print and re-mail 100,000 sample ballots because of entire sections missing candidates from the Gavilan Joint Community College District and Santa Clara Unified School District races.

The county corrected the slip-up and alerted voters by snail mail, email and phone calls. But the printing company for absentee ballots used proofs from those older samples, running off 1,007 mail-in ballots missing the same information. Voters have already received those faulty ballots.

Shannon Bushey, the county's Registrar of Voters, offered an apology when contacted Tuesday.

"I’m very sorry for the inconvenience that it may have caused voters," she told San Jose Inside. "The first error was our fault. This one was caused by an error in the vendor's printing process. The vendor is looking at procedures to prevent this from happening in the future."

The county on Wednesday will send out corrected ballots to the 448 Gavilan voters and 559 Santa Clara Unified voters who received the wrong ones, Bushey said. Gavilan voters will receive this letter of apology from Bushey, and Santa Clara Unified voters will get this version.

Candidates left off the ballots got an update from Bushey this afternoon:

I have more information for you about the error we previously communicated about and I have a new error to inform you of.  All of this came to my attention yesterday.
1)      Vendor had not mailed the vote by mail (VBM) ballots to all voters in Santa Clara Unified School District and Gavilan Community College District.
The vendor had informed us that all of the VBM ballots for the two school districts were going to be mailed out last week with all of the other VBM ballots for the entire county.  I learned yesterday from the vendor that this was not done last week.  These VBM ballots will begin mailing tomorrow and end by Friday.  These 77,718 VBM ballots will contain the correct official ballot for voters.  39,351 in Gavilan and 38,367 in Santa Clara Unified.  I am sorry for the delay in mailing these VBM ballots.
2)      New error made by vendor to 1,007 voters in Santa Clara Unified School District and Gavilan Community College District.
The vendor made an error connecting the wrong plates in the printing process on 1,007 VBM ballots for the two school districts.  448 voters in Gavilan and 559 voters in Santa Clara Unified.  The face plate used in the printing of this smaller number was pulled from the “old” incorrect version of the official ballot instead of using the revised face plate that had both school district’s TA 2 and 3 on them.  These 1,007 VBM ballots were mailed out last week with the “old” incorrect version of the ballot.  By the end of today, the vendor will have mailed a second, correct VBM ballot to those 1,007 voters with a letter explaining the error.  This letter will also tell voters to vote the enclosed correct ballot.  I have attached a copy of the letter being sent to voters for your reference.  I am sorry that these VBM ballots were sent out incorrectly.

Meanwhile, Bushey said, the county has added another two layers of proofreading, to prevent the kind of "programming errors" that left out election data in the first place.

Bushey added that she doesn't know how much the latest mistake will cost, but expects Oregon-based K&H Printing to pay for the re-prints.

It's the third major mistake this year for the ROV. In April, the department left out the argument against library parcel tax Measure B from sample ballots mailed out to 412,000 San Jose voters.

The new mail-in ballots left off Gavilan Area 2 incumbent Laura Perry and challenger Mark W.A. Hinkle, as well as Area 3 incumbent Kent L. Child and opponents Lois M. Locci and Elizabeth Dirks.

Below is another recent mail-in ballot, which excludes information from the Santa Clara Unified school board race. All of Area 2's candidates were omitted, including Noelani Sallings, Inka Bendis, Jodi Muirhead, Ashish Mangla, Christine Ellen Koltermann and Steve Kelly.

"I am still waiting to hear more details from the ROV but I am disappointed that there was yet another mistake with the ballots in my race," said Sallings. "First the sample ballot omitted this race, and now the absentee voters of the Santa Clara Unified School District and there is no way to mitigate. In a contested race like this, especially since it affects so many children, the SCCROV needs to remedy the situation immediately."

Faulty Ballot

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Good grief!

    We have “democracy” one day every two years, and they still manage to screw it up.

    After the election, Obama will still be the president, Jerry Brown will still be the governor, DiFi and Babs will still be the Senators, the Bay Area House delegation will still be 100 percent tribalist foragers, and a “Progressive Democrat” will be mayor.

    And the High Speed Rail that the majority of Californians DON’T want will still be constructed.

    No change. No hope.

    Why bother?

  2. How many times does Jeff Smith and his appointed people need to foul up before the Board of Supes takes action? The current Board is the weakest & worst in SCC history.

  3. Time for some resignations or terminations. And why are they using an Oregon printer? The least they can do is keep the jobs in CA.

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