A new program designed to automatically register more voters in Washington state has resulted in some voters receiving two election ballots in their name, instead of one.
Many of the duplicate ballots are being created when residents apply for the state's new enhanced driver's license, which automatically registers people to vote, unless they opt out. Some previously registered voters are being given extra ballots when a wrinkle in the system sees a variation, like a change of address, or ID number.
Robert Richardson of Woodinville reached out to KIRO-7 when he noticed he had the opportunity to vote in this election twice.
"I wanted to know, not just for myself, but how widely is this happening?" Richardson asked.
"Last Friday, Oct. 18, I received my second ballot in the mail," he said.
Richardson figured he wasn't the only one with two ballots, and he was concerned others would try to tilt an election by voting more than once.
"Why is this happening?" he asked. "Here's an opportunity for somebody to vote twice. That's my concern.''
KIRO-7 News took his concern to King County Elections, where communications specialist Halei Watkins explained the glitch, and what happens if voters use both ballots.
"Getting duplicate ballots in an election is not uncommon," Watkins said. "In every single election we have some duplicates that go out. It's not that (Robert's) voter registration was duplicated, it's that his voter record was updated through the department of licensing."
Watkins says voter safeguards built into the system are ready to handle the problem.
"They should only vote once, but if they forget that they already voted one and send us in the other one, no big deal, both ballots will not be counted," she said.
Watkins pointed out that each voter has a code unique to them, like a fingerprint. Any ballots with discrepancies in that code are kicked out.
"We have heard from some other voters that they have gotten duplicates too," she said. "In our investigations, ballots are all under one record and our system makes it impossible to count two ballots for one record."
Richardson says he's glad the system is ready for things like this--and he's certain of one thing: "They will not be getting a duplicate from me," he said.
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