A Quarter Of All Names On Tippecanoe County Absentee Ballots Are Wrong

Sep 29, 2016

This sign appears on Tippecanoe County voting computers (which are not part of the problem). Incorrect paper mail-in ballots may be changed using an affidavit.
Credit Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Despite a successful test of Tippecanoe County’s voting equipment Thursday, the county Election Board is dealing with another issue concerning misprinted ballots.

Unlike in last year’s election, when nearly 100 voters were given ballots with the incorrect races on them, this year’s error concerns the names of the candidates.

More than a quarter of the names on the ballot either feature a misspelling or a name listed in a way different from how the candidate filed it.

Libertarian County Council candidates Daniel Church and Randall Young have their nicknames, Dan and Randy, listed in quotes, rather than in parentheses.

All three candidates running for town office in Shadeland are missing their middle initials.

Two Tippecanoe School Corporation and two West Lafayette School Corporation board candidates have issues with their names. Three feature issues with nicknames. But one – incumbent West Lafayette board member Tom Schott – is listed as Tom Scott.

Voters who’ve already cast early ballots may file an affidavit with the county invalidating their first ballot if they feel they voted for someone they did not intend to because of the misprinting.

But Schott says he doesn’t plan to go door-to-door telling voters about the possibility of changing their votes.

“Put it this way: if I end up being the odd person out, I’m not going to look back and think it was this," Schott says. "I just can’t. Life’s too short for that kind of thing. It was an honest, human error and we’ll get our name out the best we can over the next month or so and just hope for the best.”

Election Board Chairman Randy Vonderheide says the county has been in similar circumstances before.

“Traditionally – or it seems like about every year – there’s some kid of error, some kind of problem that we have to address," Vonderheide says. "We’re fortunate in a sense that we’re addressing it well in advance of early voting.”

However, the voter who caught the errors told Vonderheide he mentioned the problems to election staffers a week ago. Election office staff say they were not aware of any such complaint. The problem only affects ballots already printed and mailed. The names can be fixed in the computers on which most voters will cast their ballots.

All told, about 700 misprinted ballots have been sent out in advance of early voting, which begins October 12th. About 120 of those have Schott’s name on them.