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Secretary of States office to pay more than $200K for ballot blunder

The Glenville Democrat of Glenville, West Virginia

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On Mon., May 21, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant's office released a statement saying that, "prudent planning with her office's budget will help pay for a ballot error in the 2012 primary election."

The error was on the Republican ballot that told voters to choose not more than 18 delegates to the Republican National Convention. It should have indicated that 19 delegates were to be chosen.

Luckily, this error was caught before the early voting period began on Apr. 25. Unfortunately it was not noticed until the ballots had already been printed, thus it was determined the ballots would have to be reprinted.

The cost to the counties, according to the Secretary of State's website (www.sos.wv.gov) was $148,705.20. The cost to reprint the ballots in Gilmer County, according to County Clerk Jean Butcher, was $2,511.40.

In addition to the preprinting of the Republican ballots, an additional $64,000 will be owed to Election Systems and Software for recoding and reprogramming the I-Vote machines. Other bills could still be submitted for operational costs incurred by the counties for things like overtime, ballot commissioners and express mail for absentee voters in the military or oversees.

"We found out about the error a few days after we mailed out the military ballots," said Mrs. Butcher.

The Secretary of State didn't seem apologetic for costing taxpayers the extra money, but commented, "The Secretary of State's Office was one of a few agencies in West Virginia that budgeted to pay our OPEB obligations. It was determined that transfer would not occur and those funds were reclassified. We will use those funds to help pay for the reprinting and reprogramming. We are now working closely with counties to make sure they let us know about their operational costs."

The website news release went on to commend Tennant saying that she has always looked for ways to save the state money in the Secretary of State's office, adding that since 2009 she has cut the budget in that office and that is has the smallest budget of any constitutional office.

Tennant's spokesman, Jake Glance, was not available for comment at press time on Tuesday.

A couple of the Gilmer County Courthouse employees commented, "The State is reimbursing us." To which this editor replied, "It's still taxpayer money, whether it comes from the county, state or federal government."

Original Publication Date: May 24, 2012



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