Hundreds of incorrect ballots mailed to Upstate absentee voters
Same vendor responsible for ballot errors earlier this year, officials say
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - With less than a month until the election, Spartanburg County officials said hundreds of voters received incorrect ballots in the mail due to an error from a third-party vendor.
Spartanburg County election officials said they sent the correct absentee ballot file to Consolidated Mailing Services, but an error occurred when the vendor was preparing to print the ballots. As a result, 699 voters received ballots for the wrong precinct.
“After sending the file to the vendor, our office identified one voter in the file that had applied for an absentee ballot but later moved out of Spartanburg County,” said Adam Hammons, the director of Spartanburg County Voter Registration and Elections. “To ensure the ineligible voter did not receive a Spartanburg ballot, we asked the vendor to remove the voter from the file prior to printing and mailing. During that process, the data shifted, unbeknownst to the vendor, causing the error.”
Officials said they are mailing new, corrected ballots on Thursday to the people impacted by the issue with an explanation. The county is also reaching out to affected voters directly with any contact information they have on file.
Corrected replacement ballots will be in an envelope with a yellow stripe.
If you are unsure if you received an incorrect ballot, visit the South Carolina Election Commission website to view your sample ballot for the election and make sure the absentee ballot you received in the mail matches it.
Chris Whitmire, a spokesperson for the South Carolina State Election Commission (SEC), said they are providing guidance to Spartanburg County on resolving the issue.
Consolidated Mailing Services is owned by Sun Solutions, an SEC-approved vendor. Spartanburg County officials said they have used the company before without issue.
However, earlier this year Horry County leaders called on the state to investigate an absentee ballot error in the June runoff elections where 1,337 Republican voters received Democratic absentee ballots by mistake. Sun Solutions was the vendor hired to print and mail the ballots.
In June, Sun Solutions said they were investigating what went wrong. They determined a network drop while the Horry County ballot file was processing caused the issue, which they said was “an extremely rare but unfortunate occurrence,” according to the SEC. They implemented additional measures so in the event of future network drops, errors could be identified and corrected.
Prior to 2020, there was only one approved vendor for absentee ballot printing and mailing in South Carolina, but SEC added two more vendors to meet demand. A review panel of SEC and county election officials approved Sun Solutions as one of the new vendors.
“Approval is based on whether the vendor can produce quality ballots that can be tabulated by the statewide voting system and whether the vendor has the capacity and experience to conduct mass printing and mailing,” Whitmire said.
Consolidating Mailing Services is the largest mail service provider in the state, according to the Sun Solutions website, and they process hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail a day.
County election boards have the choice to print and mail ballots themselves or use their preferred vendor.
“While a vendor’s performance may impact a board’s decision to choose or stop using a vendor, the SEC has no authority to terminate, or to require a county board to terminate, their contract with any vendor,” Whitmire said.
Whitmire said there are no plans to change the list of approved vendors for the current election. The list for future elections has not yet been determined.
On Tuesday, October 25, 2022, Spartanburg County Officials confirmed that all of the voters impacted were mailed a new ballot on October 13. They added that 361 of those voters have since returned their correct ballots.
FOX Carolina has reached out to Sun Solutions for comment on the ballot errors. Stay with us for updates on this developing story.
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