Tuesday: Ballot Problem Hits Watertown Primary


Jefferson County Board of Elections officials were scrambling Tuesday to deal with a ballot problem affecting next Tuesday's primary in the City of Watertown.

As printed, the primary ballot asks people to vote for any four candidates. 

"That's not how it works. You can vote for up to two candidates and the top four vote getters move on to November," Watertown mayor Jeff Graham noted on his blog Tuesday morning.

"We made a mistake," said Jerry O. Eaton, one of the county's two elections commissioners. "We're rectifying that as we speak, and on election day, voters will be able to vote for two, but four will move on to the general election."

Eaton said new ballots are being printed for use next Tuesday. Elections officials are also dealing with two knottier problems: how to reset the electronic machines used to scan the completed ballots at each polling place, and how to handle the absentee ballots already sent out and returned.

Elections officials are sending fresh absentees, but it's not clear what to do for people who have already returned ballots that incorrectly vote for four candidates, and who then don't respond with corrected ballots.

Eaton noted that Watertown's primary system poses special challenges.

"It's very confusing. It's unique to the entire state of New York, the city of Watertown's election because it's non-partisan. It's very dated, the law, so we're trying to figure our way through it.

"We'll fix it and make sure it's right on election day for the voters."

Local elections officials were consulting the state Board of Elections Tuesday.

A total of six people are running for city council; the top four vote getters next Tuesday will go on to November's general election, where the top two will be elected to seats on the council.


Monday, December 5, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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