Printing errors, mail delivery delays and the sheer volume of requests have left many states across the country scrambling to get ballots into the hands of voters ahead of the fast approaching deadline.
Voters in Ohio have seen delays thanks to a ballot printing backup. In Michigan, a state that has already seen 3 million absentee ballot requests, 20,000 absentee ballots have yet to be sent out. In addition to printing and mail delivery delays, some counties had to reprint and re-send ballots, including Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County — further squeezing the window for voters to get their ballots returned in time.
Voters who say they requested their absentee ballots in a timely fashion are frustrated and confused to find themselves still waiting, just a week before the recommended US Postal Service deadline for getting ballots back in the mail.
Lee Zacharias, 75, from Greensboro, North Carolina, never received her absentee ballot. She wanted to vote via absentee because of her compromised immune system, but ended up risking her health, and voting in-person because she felt that it was getting too close to the deadline.
According to BallotTrax, a new tool North Carolina voters can use to keep up with their ballot status, Zacharias’ initial ballot was outbound on September 11. When that one didn’t show up, she called the Guilford County Board of Elections on September 28. Zacharias said she was told BallotTrax isn’t always accurate, but to be safe the county would cancel her original ballot and send her a new one. When that ballot didn’t arrive, Zacharias decided to cast her vote in person because she was nervous that it would never show up.
“The fact that I know that mine is not the only case. That there are a number of other people that have not received absentee ballots they applied for, who had ballots that disappeared, like mine did and have been voided and have not receive replacement ballots makes me angry,” Zacharias said.