DENVER — Election mistakes happen, and when they do, they are not necessarily proof of election fraud.
Denver Clerk and Recorder Paul D. López fessed up to a ballot error.
The city issued incorrect ballots to 60 voters near uptown off Marion Street between Colfax and 18th Avenue. The city discovered the error when a voter reached out after realizing the wrong State House race was listed on their ballot.
"We had a voter contact us, and something was off on the ballot, in terms of the State Rep race," said López.
The Democratic voter saw House District 3 and Meg Froelich as the unopposed Democratic candidate. That voter should have seen House District 8 and Leslie Herod.
"Literally, it was three blocks in one precinct. We were able to identify that, 60 voters out of half of a million," said López.
The clerk's office hand-delivered new ballots to those voters on Wednesday.
The Republican ballots in that precinct were also printed incorrectly. Those listed House District 3 and Marla Fernandez instead of House District 8 and Hilleary Waters.
"It's all because of that voter being able to contact us, knowing to contact us," said López.
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The error was in only one of Denver's 301 precincts.
How did that happen?
"Just a human error with our data entry," said López. "Every 10 years we have to adjust for the new precinct boundaries, for new House District boundaries, new Senate District boundaries. As we do that, we have to reassign and re-organize those voters in those precincts."
The mistake was not without consequences. Five of the voters had already returned their ballots.
"For those that already voted, those five people, unfortunately, we can't do anything about that," said López.
Here's why. Once you return your ballot and your signature on the envelope is verified, the envelop and ballot inside are separated. From that point on, it is impossible to know which ballot belonged to which voter. And that is by design.
"Once we verify those signatures and those signatures are verified, that that voter is indeed the voter that turned in that ballot, that is separated and that's to protect voter anonymity," said López.
The clerk's office is lucky that both the Democratic and Republican races in House District 3 and 8 are unopposed.
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Even though five voters returned ballots for the wrong State House district, they did not choose between multiple candidates in a race that they are not supposed to vote in.
Is this election fraud? No.
Is it a mistake? Absolutely.
"We put it out there because we want voters to understand, one: the security of our process, two: the transparency of our process. Also because we want voters to come to us if there's an issue. Don't go on Facebook. Don't go on Twitter. Don't go into that universe of those rabbit holes. Contact your clerk," said López.
The ballots were printed incorrectly because they had an incorrect precinct number.
The number should have been 1310816832. That means something.
The "1" is the Congressional District the person lives in.
The next two digits -- "31" -- stand for the State Senate District.
The next two -- "08" stand for the State House District that should show up on the ballot.
The next two - "16" -- that's a county code.
And the final three digits -- "832" -- are the precinct code.
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