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Seven months after 2022 elections, U.S. counties still uncovering Election Day problems

Some issues that were found in multiple counties included understaffing.

Published: June 20, 2023 11:19pm

Following reviews over the past seven months on how their election departments administered the 2022 midterms, several counties across the U.S have found numerous issues that highlight processes and procedures that need to be addressed for future elections.

Such jurisdictions have conducted  audits, reviews, or investigations to determine root causes. Several counties released the reviews in June, seven months after the elections occurred. 

1. Berkeley County, South Carolina: An audit of the county Board of Voter Registration and Elections’ administration of the 2022 elections released this month by the state Election Commission gave 30 recommendations.

The audit found that 25 of 440 poll workers and two polling location technicians were paid despite not receiving training for their positions. Checklists for opening and closing polls weren’t adequately completed for all polling locations, and neither were ballot reconciliation worksheets to ensure that all ballots were accounted for, according to the audit.

2. Cobb County, Georgia: A county elections division employee made an error that led to more than 1,000 absentee ballots not being mailed in time for the November election. The error wasn’t discovered until weeks later, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit for several absentee voters. A judge then extended the deadline for the county to accept absentee ballots.

The county’s Internal Audit Department presented its nearly 80-page report last week to the Board of Elections, recommending that the board automate reports at various stages of the ballot process, log the number of ballots as they’re returned, secure the absentee ballots within the department, and log ballot counts every day at each stage of the process with supervisor verification and employee initials.

3. Luzerne County, Pennsylvania: The county district attorney investigated the causes of the ballot paper shortage that occurred at several polling places in Luzerne during the 2022 general election. The DA found that 16 of the 143 polling places in the county ran out of paper for the ballot-on-demand printers. The acting elections director at the time, who started her job nearly four months before the election, didn’t order more paper ahead of the election, despite saying she would. The DA’s report also found that high staff turnover and the loss of institutional knowledge began around 2019, which he said were the underlying causes for the Election Day issues.

4. Maricopa County, Arizona: A former Arizona Supreme Court chief justice wrote a report commissioned by the county on the issues that occurred at vote centers. Roughly 70 vote centers in the county experienced ballot printer issues on Election Day 2022, which resulted in ballot tabulation machine errors. The report, which was released in April, found that between the August primaries and the November general contest, the county expanded the length of ballots from 19 to 20 inches to include all of the required information for the races. The increased ballot size – in combination with the use of 100-pound ballot paper – was too great a strain on the printers, the report concludes.

One of the printer companies disputed some of the claims in the report, saying that the county should have reviewed the printer manual or contacted it before using 100-pound paper for the printers.

5. Washoe County, Nevada: In the 2022 general election, the county failed to mail ballots to some voters in remote areas and misprinted sample ballots that cost over $178,000 to be replaced.

The Elections Group – which partners with the Center for Tech and Civic Life and received funding from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2020 – conducted an audit of the November 2022 election.

The elections consulting partnership recommended an overhaul of the county Registrar of Voters office in its nearly 80-page report that was completed last month.

The Elections Group noted issues such as lack of internal and external communication, supervision, training and standard operating procedures.

The audit made recommendations on such issues as ballots, staffing, voter registration, election worker management and training, and standard operating procedures.

The Elections Group also noted understaffing as an issue, as well as a heavy reliance on temporary employees.

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