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[October 23, 2010]
GOP pressures Franklin Co. auditor to fix ballot problem
PASCO, Oct 23, 2010 (Tri-City Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Although Franklin County Auditor Zona Lenhart plans to send notices to all voters that some may not have received their ballots, the state Republican Party still is complaining about it.
The county will mail postcards Monday and they should start appearing in mailboxes across the county Tuesday, said Lenhart, who is running for re-election as a Democrat.
"It was the prudent thing to do," she said.
Lenhart said the state Republican Party has been pressuring her office to mail notices to voters after an unusual number of voters requested replacement ballots this week.
The office had received requests for 75 replacement ballots by Wednesday.
Peter Cowman, communications director for the state Republican Party, said the party wants notices sent out to voters because every voter should get the option to vote in the election.
"If people aren't receiving their ballot, it's a huge problem," he said.
The party received a number of phone calls about the missing ballots, he said. It has not heard of similar situations in other counties, he said.
Cowman encouraged voters to call the auditor's office if they are missing their ballot.
The auditor's office has determined that the issue with the ballots occurred during mailing, Lenhart said. Some who were sent replacement ballots also have received their original ones.
The postcards being mailed Monday ask voters to call the auditor's office to ask for a replacement ballot if they have not received their ballot or if it was damaged.
The postcard mailing will cost the county $3,947.49. Lenhart said that's far cheaper than a lawsuit.
Election officials are aware that when races look neck and neck, it's important to be proactive, Lenhart said. Her office has been taking the missing ballots very seriously, she said.
The number of calls to Franklin County for replacement ballots has decreased and appears to be in the normal range for an election cycle, according to an auditor's office press release issued Friday.
As of Friday, 4,574, or about 18 percent, of the 25,349 ballots sent out in Franklin County had been returned. In Benton County, 12,682 ballots, or 14 percent of the 88,596 mailed, had been returned.
Franklin County voters who have not received their ballots should call the auditor's office at 545-3538. Benton County voters should call 786-5618 or 736-3085, or go to www.bentonelections.com.
People can register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election until Monday by going to the Franklin County auditor's office in the Franklin County courthouse, 1016 N. Fourth Ave., Pasco; or the Benton County auditor's office, 5600 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick; 101 Wellsian Way, Suite E, Richland; or 620 Market St., Prosser.
The option is available for those who are not registered to vote in Washington.
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