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Nearly 50k Ohio Voters Received Wrong Absentee Ballots, Election Officials Say

A man fills out his ballot at an early voting site in Arlington, Va., September 18, 2020. (Al Drago/Reuters)

Nearly 50,000 voters in Franklin County, Ohio received incorrect absentee ballots, elections officials said Friday, explaining that a glitch had affected one in five ballots of the 240,000 that the state’s most populous county had sent thus far.

The error occurred on Saturday afternoon when a setting was changed on a machine that places absentee ballots into mailing envelopes, officials said Thursday. Some of the ballots listed the wrong congressional race while others with the correct race were sent to voters outside the relevant precinct.

Officials said the process to replace the ballots was in the works on Friday and that corrected ballots would be sent out within 72 hours. The Franklin County Elections Board said it would mail postcards to all affected voters, explaining the situation and laying out voters’ options going forward, which include voting in-person at the board’s offices.

Multiple checks are in place to make sure voters can only cast one ballot each, the board said, including rejecting the replacement ballots of those who vote in-person.

The news comes amid an election year that is expected to see an unprecedented amount of mail-in voting as voters look to cast their ballots from home to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Ohio has received over 2,154,235 absentee ballot applications this year, more than double the 1,091,188 applications the state received at the same time in 2016, according to Ohio secretary of state Frank LaRose.

President Trump and other Republicans have repeatedly expressed concern that mail-in voting could lead to widespread voter fraud and errors as a result of ballots being sent to the wrong addresses or to voters who have died, though Democrats have billed mail-in voting as a safe, secure option for voters concerned about COVID-19.

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