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Government

Nearly 500 confuse Linn County sample ballots for the real thing

Auditor not able to reach 44 of them to tell of error

CEDAR RAPIDS — Nearly 500 Linn County voters have confused a recently mailed sample ballot with the real thing.

Officials with the Linn County Auditor’s Office said Wednesday that, as of 5 p.m. Monday, 489 sample ballots mistakenly had been filled out and sent to the office. Of those, 44 lacked a return address. Auditor Joel Miller said in an email that the returned sample ballots did not include respondents’ names, so without names or addresses, those 44 individuals cannot be reached.

That’s out of 90,500 total sample ballots that were mailed to residents with the hopes of educating voters and boosting absentee ballot requests for the Nov. 6 election.

As of Tuesday night, the office had received 16,712 absentee ballot requests. Nearly 1,000 votes have been cast already between absentee ballots and early voting, which began Monday.

But officials have said the word “sample,” which was printed across each sample ballot, may have become faded during scanning and printing, making it difficult for some people to see.

What’s more, the sample ballot was mailed along with an absentee ballot request form and return envelope. Some made their choices on the sample ballots and used the return envelopes to send them back — a mistake, as these are not the authentic ballots.

The office has shredded the returned sample ballots and mailed individuals who supplied return addresses to notify them of the proper way to cast a ballot.

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Linn County Democrats have raised concern that the sample ballots may have confused some residents into thinking they’ve voted when they have not.

A Linn County GOP official said this week he had not heard of any confusion among voters.

Those in the auditor’s office have said the mailers have been successful in boosting requests for absentee ballots.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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