I’m sure this was just an honest mistake. But even if so, it’s a darned curious one. It turns out that only yesterday, Michigan was making military and overseas absentee ballots available for download and printing in advance of the general election. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were correctly listed as the Democratic candidates for President and Vice President on the Democratic line. Donald Trump was also prominently featured as the GOP candidate for President. But in the space allocated for Mike Pence as the veep, at least for a few hours, the system was generating ballots without his name. On some of them, the space was simply left blank. On others, a completely different name appeared. They claim that this won’t mess things up since the problem has been corrected, but it’s just… odd. (Detroit News)
More than 400 Michigan military and overseas ballots were downloaded from a state database Tuesday with the incorrect running mate for President Donald Trump, listing a Libertarian candidate in the place of Vice President Mike Pence.
It’s not clear how many of the more than 400 ballots were actually sent to voters before the error was discovered and corrected, according to Tracy Wimmer, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
The error occurred with ballots meant to be mailed or emailed to Michigan residents living abroad under the Military and Overseas Empowerment (MOVE) Act. Those ballots usually are downloaded by local clerks’ offices upon request from an overseas voter and either printed and mailed, or downloaded via PDF and emailed to the voter before the election.
So whose name was showing up as Trump’s running mate, at least on the ones that weren’t blank? Jeremy Cohen. If that name doesn’t sound familiar it’s because he’s the veep running mate of Libertarian presidential candidate Jo Jorgenson. On those ballots, Jorgenson’s vice-presidential slot was left blank.
That’s what makes all of this more than a little strange, at least to me. Mistakes happen and typos are made all the time. (Trust me on this.) I get it. But if someone was simply transposing a couple of names incorrectly as they copied and pasted the information into the form, don’t you suppose that Pence would have at least shown up as Jorgenson’s running mate? And yet he didn’t. He just disappeared. Also, you’d think that the person doing the data entry would notice a blank space left in one of the presidential or vice-presidential slots, wouldn’t you? Then again, maybe they just hadn’t had their coffee yet.
Most of the clerks who requested these ballots said that they didn’t mail any of them out and new ones were being printed, so perhaps there will be no impact from this. But what would happen if some of those ballots did make it out and were returned? Michigan has been fairly tight in the polls lately, so every vote counts. A ballot not listing all of the candidates in the correct offices could easily be disqualified as being a faulty ballot.
Again, we would have been talking about a couple of hundred ballots at most and I imagine the vast majority of people are only looking at the name in the Presidential field when casting their votes anyway. (Well, okay… Kamala Harris might be the exception if she’s voting for the upcoming Harris administration, but that’s probably a rare occurance.) Still, this is just one more example of some of the questions that could arise when dealing with mail-in ballots. If you go down to cast your vote in person and notice an error, you can point it out to the workers at your polling place and wait for them to correct it. Once you fill out a mail-in ballot and send it on its way, the deed is done and you are no longer in control of it.
But just in case, who’s ready for Trump – Cohen 2020? You can almost feel the electricity in the air just saying the words.