The Whitman County Elections Office is scrambling to correct errors with ballots for at least the seventh time in four years.
Whitman County Auditor Eunice Coker confirmed Friday afternoon that ballots sent to some voters in Pullman’s Ward 1 were intended for voters in Ward 2.
Coker, in an email sent Friday to area media outlets, seemed to place the blame for the mistake on the city of Pullman.
Coker wrote that after the August primary election – in which the county also had issues mailing correct ballots to Pullman voters – information about November ballots including title language, candidate names and positions was sent by county election staff to all cities and towns in the county to confirm accuracy.
“We received verification of ballot title language for the bond requests that the City of Pullman is putting forth this November, but no verification that the ballot proofs themselves were correct,” Coker wrote.
Pullman city officials on Thursday, however, placed the blame squarely on the county.
City Supervisor Adam Lincoln, who told the Daily News on Thursday his wife had yet to receive a ballot, said the auditor’s office asked the city in late August to take all of Pullman’s addresses and list which ward they were in. Lincoln said an attorney with the city determined that was not the city’s responsibility.
“Our understanding was they were going to make corrections to their errors,” Lincoln said.
Coker wrote that ballots sent to voters in Precincts 121 and 124 will be pended in the election system, and the county will send new ballot packets and instructions to those voters. She added that ballots already returned by voters in those precincts will be quarantined.
Coker wrote that the new ballot packets will have a gray return envelope with a blue or yellow stripe on the label to differentiate them.
In August, 812 Ward 1 ballots were incorrectly sent to Ward 3. Ward 3 voters who were affected reside in Precinct 235. Coker said the error was caused by changes in the boundaries that make up Pullman’s wards.
In 2013, there was a ballot error involving a Pullman City Council ward. Then in October 2015, the Whitman County Elections Office had to resend more than 700 ballots to Pullman voters on Pioneer and College Hills after Ward 1 ballots were sent to Ward 3 residents.
The county has also experienced issues in recent years with elections in Tekoa, Oakesdale and a hospital district.