Politics

Some Merced Co. voters received incorrect ballots. County officials probing how many.

Voters in three Merced County communities received ballots listing contests they were ineligible to vote for and omitting others.

Incorrect ballots being mailed to voters have become part of the growing pains of California’s sudden move in 2020 to all-mail balloting.

A candidate for the District 4 seat on the Merced City Council informed the Merced County Times early Wednesday, right before the newspaper press deadline, that some voters in his district received ballots with the wrong candidates names. 

In a Facebook post that morning, the Shane Smith campaign wrote: “Our campaign is aware that voters in at least two precincts in District 4 received ballots listing only the candidates for District 6. Shane has been in personal contact with the Merced County Office of the Registrar about this issue, and expects an update from the Registrar today. We reserve all rights and remedies to ensure that this coming election reflects the will of District 4 voters, up to and including legal action. Our campaign will keep the community updated.”

The Times also received multiple calls from residents in at least two precincts from District 4 and District 6 about errors on their ballots. Later, City of Merced officials reported to local media that they were getting reports of erroroenous ballots from voters as well.

County officials eventually released this statement:

“The Merced County Board of Supervisors, Executive staff and Elections personnel are aware of issues existing with some ballots that have been mailed out for the 2022 General Election. Mapping issues associated with the redistricting process have resulted in some ballots containing incorrect local races. County staff is currently assessing the scope of the issue, and will work quickly to put an action plan together to remedy the situation. Merced County is committed to safeguarding the integrity of its elections and will work diligently to resolve the issues identified.”

Like other areas of the county, the City of Merced and its six representative districts went through a redistricting process that was completed and approved early this year. The race for the open District 4 seat on the Merced City Council includes candidates Smith, Casey Steed and Javier Furents. The District 6 race includes incumbent Delray Shelton and challenger Fue Xiong.

Los Banos Precinct 516-0

According to the county, an error has been identified in the Precinct 516-0 Vote-By-Mail Ballots for the Nov. 8, General Election.

These ballots were issued without the Los Banos Unified School District Area 7 contest listed.

As a result, these ballots have been voided and corrected replacement ballots for Precinct 516-0 were mailed on Oct. 10.

A press release stated: 

Merced County Elections Office has issued letters to the registered voters affected by this error, providing instructions on how to identify the correct ballot to complete and return. Voters should look for:

• The Los Banos Unified School District Area 7 contest listed on the ballot; and

• A #2 located on the outside of the Vote-By-Mail envelope

Additionally, the Elections Office will review each ballot submitted from Precinct 516-0 to ensure that voters returned the correct ballot. If an incorrect ballot is returned, the Elections Office will reach out to the voter to assist with returning a correct ballot.

Note: Voted ballots must be returned in person no later than 8 pm on Election Day or postmarked on or before Election Day and received within 7 days to be counted.

For more information regarding Merced County Elections, please visit our website at

www.mercedelections.org

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.