Oversized ballot mishap not likely to happen again

By WEEK Producer

November 1, 2012 Updated Nov 6, 2012 at 3:18 PM CDT

TAZEWELL COUNTY, Ill. -- Tazewell County voters didn't know it at the time, but the ballot many of them were handed during the March primary wasn't quite right.

"They were probably just a tenth of an inch larger than what they should have been in order to fit in the optical scan machines in order to read them," explained Tazewell County Clerk Christie Webb.

It turned out the over-sized ballots were cut incorrectly by the printer, a company called ABS Graphics in Addison, Illinois.

That meant at precincts all around Tazewell County, ballots had to be trimmed before they could be counted.

"We kind of called it arts and crafts," recalled Webb. "They trimmed them ever so slightly because if they hit the timing marks on the side, the ballot wouldn't be read. Once they got them trimmed, it went through just fine."

The same company that prints ballots for Tazewell County also prints them for dozens of others. During the last election, several of those counties experienced similar problems.

McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael confirms her office dealt with oversized ballots printed by ABS Graphics. Knox County experienced the same problem.

Webb says the printing company has corrected the mistake and she's not anticipating a re-run.

Her biggest concern less than a week before the election is making sure all precincts are staffed and the electronics are working.

"You want to make sure machines are up and running at 6 o'clock and ready to go," Webb said, "and that there's no dead batteries. All those have been checked previously but once they go out you just want to make sure that you're ready to go on time."

That's what voters are counting on.