Thousands of flawed Palm Beach County absentee ballots processed

Up to 27,000 absentee ballots flawed

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. - Nine teams started Monday on a process that would last through Election Day: copying and processing thousands of flawed absentee ballots.

Of the absentee ballots that have been returned to the county, 8,000 of them were unreadable by machines.  They must be individually copied by humans to go back into the machines.

Susan Bucher, Supervisor of Elections, said, "We're just here to make an exact duplicate of the ballot."

Bucher says the issue came from the printer in Arizona, and that fault does not lie with the county.

"We did proofread it, they sent us a file and the file contained the accurate ballot.  Unfortunately, they didn't print that one.  We have a technician that feeds ballots into machines and just mails them.  And we got a proof of the ballot, they just gave us the wrong proof," she said.

With both presidential campaigns watching closely, Bucher allowed one Republican, one Democrat and one Independent to watch the nine teams of two who were copying ballots, sitting behind them to serve as quality control. 

Some Independents in attendance raised concerns.  Representing three Florida Supreme Court justices from the ballot, present parties asked if flaws with missing headlines on the ballot may have confused voters who didn't vote at all in that category.

Gary Dunkel, who was representing justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, presented a letter to Bucher that challenged the process. 

Dunkel said, "We just wanted her to segregate those undervotes so that later they could be looked at if necessary."

When approached by a group expressing the concern, Bucher said, "If they continue to object, they are providing frivolous objections and they will be excused."

Bucher said the purpose of the copying was not to count ballots, but instead to make sure they would feed through machines.

"The law says that we are here to make exact duplicates, and so if somebody did not vote in that race, that's not an objection, we can't fill in the race if they didn't vote for it."

If all absentee ballots are returned, 27,000 will need to be copied by hand. 

"They should be assured that there will not be any kinds of problems."

Bucher says all 101 variations of the ballots that will be used in the general election have gone through the machines with one hundred percent accuracy. 

The copying of flawed absentee ballots will continue until Election Day.

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