NISSEQUOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A mix-up with absentee ballots on Long Island has some voters getting ballots for the wrong congressional race.
The ballot that came in the mail to Judi Harris didn’t seem right. She says she couldn’t find the candidates up for election in her district.
“I got the wrong ballot,” she said. “Now I can’t vote, and now other people have gotten this?”
The mailer she received listed candidates in a different congressional district.
“Errors can happen, but in a situation like this you don’t let errors happen,” said Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-1st).
Zeldin is seeking his third term, and says he’s gotten the same complaints from others near the district’s border. He’s demanding an immediate re-mailing.
“They need to get the corrected ballot instantly,” he said. “People are choosing control of the United States House of Representatives, there’s a lot at stake.”
His challenger, Democrat Perry Gershon, says it sounds like a clerical error.
“I’ve gotten reports of it happening equally to Republicans and Democrats,” he said.
Gershon says he’s also concerned about two other voter mix ups. One mailer from the Zeldin camp to absentee voters listed the wrong mailing deadline. The Republican incumbent called it an innocent printing error they’ve since corrected.
Absentee voters have also been turned away at the Suffolk Board of Education, which for years accepted walk-ins. Inundated workers have said they can no longer hand out absentee ballots on the spot.
All of this is taking place in a pivotal congressional district, which voted for Obama then Trump. The high stakes race in eastern and central Long Island is seen as a referendum on the president by some.
“Anything that’s done that messes with the voting system is a problem fro everybody,” Gershon said.
“I believe if someone wants to walk into the board of elections and vote, they should be able to do that,” Zeldin said.
Late Wednesday the BOE reversed itself on the walk-in policy after a formal complaint of voter suppression from County Executive Steve Bellone. Both Zeldin and Gershon still demand answers as to how the wrong ballots were mailed in the first place.
According to Suffolk Elections Commissioner Nick LaLota, four Republican and two independent voters contacted the BOE stating they each received a third district ballot. The board immediately sent them a replacement ballot, according to LaLota.
“The Board is currently in the process of contacting the hundreds of other absentee voters who live near the NY-1/NY-3 border,” the commissioner continued in a statement sent to CBS2. “We are asking them if they received the correct ballot. If they didn’t we will send them a correct ballot immediately.”