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Biting Error: Flagler Mosquito Control Race Missing From Nearly 1,600 Ballots in Beachside Precincts

| October 26, 2016

The Flagler County Canvassing Board was meeting for most of the day today to canvass mail ballots. From left, Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart, Commissioner Nate McLaughlin, and board alternate Nicole Williams, who was filling in for Judge Melissa Moore-Stens in mid-afternoon, as Stens had to preside over a court hearing. Standing is attorney Sean Moyland. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County Canvassing Board was meeting for most of the day today to canvass mail ballots. From left, Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart, Commissioner Nate McLaughlin, and board alternate Nicole Williams, who was filling in for Judge Melissa Moore-Stens in mid-afternoon, as Stens had to preside over a court hearing. Standing is attorney Sean Moyland. (© FlaglerLive)

Close to 1,600 voters from three beachside precincts in Flagler County filled out a ballot that was missing the District 3 race for East Flagler Mosquito Control District.


The ballot error was not picked up by three proof-readers when it was reviewed by Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart and two staffers before it went out to 1,200 voters who voted by mail, and, on Monday, to 363 people who took part in early voting. But the error was caught late Monday afternoon and did not affect further voters.

“It was an oversight,” Lenhart said this afternoon. She explained the issue to the Flagler County Canvassing Board, which was meeting for most of the day today. “My first priority was to contain the issue, and provide a reasonable solution, so it has been determined that it’s only affected the vote by mail for our first run up until that day, and then the first day of early voting, for only those three precincts.”

The three precincts are Number 29, 33 and 35—the Adult Education Building in the Hammock, Flagler Beach City Hall and Flagler Beach Methodist Church. Voters taking part in early voting would have received the ballots at any of three early voting sites that would have otherwise been distributed at their precinct on Election Day. A voter at the Palm Coast Community Center’s early-voting sight flagged the error shortly after 3 p.m. Monday.

For most of the voters–the 1,200 who voted by mail—the error is being fixed: they’ve been mailed a new ballot, and each voter is getting a phone call from the supervisor’s office to ensure that he or she realizes the ballot they’re receiving is valid and must be filled out and returned. They will have until Election Day at 7 p.m. to turn it in.

The supervisor’s office can do that because the ballots mailed in had not yet counted as votes: they had not been canvassed and tabulated.

It’s more complicated for the 363 ballots cast in early voting. Those ballots have gone through the tabulation machine, making them official votes. The ballots may not be pulled back out after that. There is no re-vote.

“Now we’re trying to get a determination legally if we’re able to make any kind of combination for those people who voted early,” Lenhart said, meaning some sort of additional ballot that would enable the voters to vote again for just that mosquito control race (which features candidates Florence Fruehan and Aynne McAvoy).

“And that is the issue: can we make any kind of accommodation for the voter,” Lenhart said. “There’s no precedent legally that I can find and there’s nothing in the statute that allows it, that’s why we’re trying to get a recommendation from the Division of Elections in order to make some kind of accommodation for them.”

That recommendation was still pending as of mid-afternoon today. Lenhart was hoping to hear back. If not, a special meeting of the Canvassing Board is scheduled for Thursday at 3 p.m.

One of the possibilities is that the opportunity for those 363 voters to have a voice in the mosquito control race may be lost: there would be no additional votes. Another possibility is that they would be allowed to cast an additional ballot bearing that race.

But it’s all unchartered, legally-fraught territory: a similar issue has unfolded in Broward County, where a few ballots sent to people voting by mail were missing the Amendment 2 box—the proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize medical marijuana. “We’ve not been able to find any evidence that this goes beyond these limited number of voters,” Bernadette Norris-Weekes, the Broward County Supervisor of Elections, told a Miami television station.  But a circuit judge held an emergency hearing Tuesday on behalf of an organization supporting Amendment 2 to sort out the issue.

Asked what her preferred approach in Flagler would be, Lenhart said: “It’s difficult. I’d like to go back and redo it, the entire situation. However, seeing that the ballots have already been cast I know that the responsibility is for the voter to, if there’s a problem with the ballot, to stop, but they were given the wrong ballot, so I’d like to make that right.”

 

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15 Responses for “Biting Error: Flagler Mosquito Control Race Missing From Nearly 1,600 Ballots in Beachside Precincts”

  1. Heading North says:

    And how many proof readers went over the ballots before they were sent out???
    And the Supervisor of Elections also????
    And these people are educated, right???
    Unbelievable!!!!

  2. Ron says:

    You said the voting system is not rigged. Give me a break.

  3. palmcoaster says:

    If this very serious problem disenfranchising via a proof reading error 363 plus voters from the mosquito control vote under excellent last SOE Kimberle Weeks, would have been some huge uproar and a rope on a tree waiting for her.!!
    Oh My God McLaughling in the canvassing board..? Wonder what cake is cooking to be served with… Coffey!

  4. Aynne McAvoy says:

    What can I say? I have to trust that the highest and best outcome will be achieved in straightening out this mess. Wow.

  5. Aynne McAvoy says:

    BTW for those who may not be aware, it was my name and another person’s name left off the ballot.

  6. palmcoaster says:

    If this very serious problem disenfranchising via a proof reading error 363 plus voters from the mosquito control vote was under excellent last SOE Kimberle Weeks, would have been some huge uproar and a rope on a tree waiting for her.!!
    Oh My God McLaughling in the canvassing board..? Wonder what cake is cooking to be served with… Coffey!

  7. Concerned Citizen says:

    How do 3 proof readers not catch a 1,600 ballot error?

    I’m calling BS on this one. Sounds like a formal investigation needs to be started on this office. Kaiti Lenhart isn’t fairing much better than Kimberly Weeks did.

    If you think that the upcoming elections won’t have issues this is just the start.

    When will the citizens of Flagler County get an Elections Supervisor that will do the job and instill trust back into that office?

  8. Cindy J says:

    So sick of this–Lenhart claimed everything was just peachy, and now this. Oversight my butt. What’s next, doubling up on amendment 1 and leaving off 2 altogether?:

  9. DP says:

    Concerned Citizen,

    Wow strong words. Not making any type of excuse’s, but it’s only 1600 ballot’s not bad. And it was caught & FIXED before anymore were distributed. Nothing is perfect just look south “Broward” they had missing information as well, and the funny thing it’s a larger county, and probably more staff. It’s called being Human. Since I’ve gotten to know Katie, the office has been run a lot better. She truly cares about the citizen’s, believes in a fair and impartial system.

    As for the upcoming election and issue’s, anything is possible, but I know there are competent clerks at each precinct, and a very competent Elections staff and mostly importantly ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR. How do I know I’m a clerk for a precinct, and proud of it.

    The citizen’s have all ready elected an Elections Supervisor who has done the JOB, Restored the TRUST, and will continue to support the due process of voting, and protect the integrity of the voting process. And it was done with an overwhelming vote by the same CITIZEN’S your bringing into question.

  10. Smh says:

    Another example why Flagler is still looked upon as a backwoods ‘neck county…

  11. Smh says:

    DP, you’re absolutely correct that you’re not making excuses for the problem here in Flagler. What you are really doing is pointing out what’s happening in a much larger county to try and guide people’s attention away from the problem in Flagler. Who cares what problems the county “south of here” has. Instead of calling out other counties, how about you call out Flagler county for being so inadequate as a “smaller” county? Instead of deflecting and pointing fingers at others, why don’t you get down off your high horse and demand higher standards for the county you live in? I guarantee you won’t do that because it will go against you selfish agendas….

  12. Concerned Citizen says:

    DP,

    It’s natural to defend your boss. We all want to look good and back our bosses up.

    Quite honestly though a mistake might be 1 or 2 ballots NOT 1600. And after 3 “proof readers” The Supervisor of Elections and 2 staffers missed it? They missed 1600 ballots? Come on now.

    “You can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time.”

    Come back at me with instilling the trust when we have a mistake free process and names aren’t being left off of ballots. What if this had been a major candidate and not a vote over a control race?

    Sounds like we also need better proof readers and more attentive staffers as well.

    If votes and names are being left off of ballots in large numbers how can we be guaranteed that there is a secure and ethical voting process?

    I can see it now. Sorry Candidate A you were supposed to win but we miscounted the votes 1600 times.

    As always thank you Flagler Live for keeping us up to date. Always some sort of shenanigans going on at that fancy, shiny guvment services building.

  13. palmcoaster says:

    Shenanigan’s called correct! The county politicking to control our elections with McLaughlin in the “canvassing board” is he the county commission chair to occupy that post as our FL elections rules. Canvassing board such an important work deciding which ballots count and which one’s don’t while maybe trying to make a tally before election day final casting and occasionally running outside to make “phone calls” on breaks? Because that is what they were recorded talking about by former SOE Weeks and county has still a lawsuit against her for her “legal recording”.

  14. palmcoaster says:

    Now I comes to mind the FL S.102.144, why McLaughlin is in the canvassing board, because is the only commissioner that is not a running candidate out of only 4,,,but with the issues mentioned in the published recording made by former SOE Weeks, the following FL statute 102.144 actions should have been enforced. (c) If the chair of the board of county commissioners is unable to serve or is disqualified, the board of county commissioners shall appoint as a substitute member one of its members who is not a candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed and who is not an active participant in the campaign or candidacy of any candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed.
    (d) If a substitute member or alternate member cannot be appointed as provided elsewhere in this subsection, or in the event of a vacancy in such office, the chief judge of the judicial circuit in which the county is located shall appoint as a substitute member or alternate member a qualified elector of the county who is not a candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed and who is not an active participant in the campaign or candidacy of any candidate with opposition in the election being canvassed.

  15. Nancy N. says:

    Concerned Citizen – you don’t understand how the ballots are produced if you are saying “a mistake might be 1 or 2 ballots NOT 1600”. The ballots are printed from templates that are created for each ballot type that the SOE needs to have available for the election. So it was the precinct’s ballot template (or possibly three since three precincts were involved) that was incorrect and the error not caught, and then 1600 copies printed of the template. They weren’t proofreading 1600 ballots and missing the error on all of them.

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