LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – The Lancaster County Board of Elections says they have experienced issues scanning mail in ballots on election day.

According to the Board of Elections, the pre-canvassing process began at 7 a.m. with already received mail ballots being opened and scanned, in accordance with the state election code.

Upon opening and scanning the first batch of ballots the board of elections says “it became immediately apparent that a significant number of the mail ballots did not scan.”

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The county says upon further inspection they identified the ballots were printed by the mail ballot vendor, NPC, with the wrong identification code. This error prevents the ballots from being scanned on the County’s central scanners.

Lancaster County officials say the incorrect printing by the vendor was after the elections staff approved NPC’s test ballots, which had the correct ID code and those ballots scanned properly during the County’s logic and accuracy testing prior to the mailing of any ballots to voters.

The county confirmed they had experienced a similar problem with another vendor, who the County subsequently fired and replaced with this current vendor, which serves many Pennsylvania counties.

Lancaster County officials said in a statement “these types of errors are unacceptable and we hold the vendors responsible.”

Let us be clear – this problem and the ongoing problems with the logistics of elections flows directly from the mail ballot law, Act 77 – 2019.  Counties must run elections based on state law.  This law is too complicated.  It has too many short deadlines.  It forces counties to use mail ballot vendors where counties used to be able to do absentee ballots internally.  It does not allow precanvass prior to 7:00am on election day, thus, counties cannot find vendor errors prior to that.  It causes significant delays.  It causes citizens to question why it takes so long to get results.

After conferring with both major political parties, the county election staff recommended process to correct the issue will be remarking and scanning all affected ballots. This is the process used in the 2021 Primary Election when the previous mail ballot vendor printed the ballots incorrectly.

On Wednesday NPC released a statement regarding the incident:

NPC takes full responsibility for the file processing error that occurred when printing Lancaster County’s initial absentee and mail in ballots.  As a result, NPC printed the wrong identification code on approximately 22,000 Lancaster County ballots. This error occurred even though a rigorous testing process, which included testing sample ballots for each voting precinct, was completed prior to the election without incident.

Unfortunately, such an error could not have been identified or corrected prior to the ballots being opened and scanned.  Once the error was identified by Lancaster County Election Officials, NPC immediately coordinated with the County Officials to send replacement ballots. NPC will continue working with the County Officials to ensure the impact to the election process is minimalized. Going forward, NPC’s version control practices have been revised to ensure only approved identification codes can be printed to avoid this situation from occurring again.

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