Mail-in ballot mix-up in Lancaster County causes frustration for voters and election officials

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LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A mail-in ballot mix-up in Lancaster County has voters and election officials confused and frustrated.

On Thursday, some voters in the county received a mail-in ballot with a critical mistake. Their outside envelope had the right name and address, but the return envelope on the inside had someone else’s information.

One of those voters is Nevin Lontz, who lives in Mount Joy.

“Voting is very important to me,” Lontz said.

When he got his mail-in ballot he noticed the mistake on it right away.

“If you’re not looking for it you can easily oversee it,” Lontz said. “It’s not my name underneath here.”

Even though his outside envelope was addressed to him, the return envelope to send his ballot back was all wrong.

“My wife got one too, and in her ballot was the neighbor two doors down,” Lontz said.

Right away he called the Lancaster County Elections Office, but initially he couldn’t get any answers.

Ray D’Agostino, the Lancaster County Board of Elections Chairman, said they found out about the mistake on Thursday when voters called them about it.

When the requests for mail-in ballots boomed during the pandemic, they started contracting with outside company Michigan Election Resources. Now they print, package, and send out the mail-in ballots for Lancaster County.

On Thursday they called the company to get to the bottom of the mistake. They took full responsibility and said one of the workers there made an error that led to the mix-up on some of the ballots they sent out.

“As far as we can tell, it’s less than 100 and it’s in two zip codes. 17552 which is Mount Joy 17547 which is Marietta,” D’Agostino said.

Lontz was finally able to get in touch with the elections office. They told him they’d send him a new correct ballot.

“Once it is legal and my name is there, and I can sign and put the ballot in it, then it should be taken care of,” Lontz said.

Now it’s other voters he’s worried about.

“I don’t feel comfortable that half the people that get this is going to recognize that it’s not valid,” Lontz said.

Elections officials say they’re working to make sure all the mistakes get caught.

“If they contact us and if we find out we’ll contact them, but either way we will get it straightened out and their vote will count,” D’Agostino said.

The promise to count all mail-in ballots is one Lontz hopes they can deliver on.

“These are important issues that people should be looking at,” Lontz said.

D’Agostino said the Lancaster Elections Office hasn’t made a decision about whether they’ll stop using the company that made the mistake.

He wants to remind all voters in Mount Joy and Marietta to double check their mail-in ballot if they requested one. If a voter notices a mistake they should call (717) 299-8293.

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