Statehouse candidate left off some mailed ballots by mistake in Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Board of Elections is reaching out to 177 voters who received ballots missing a line to enter the name of a write-in candidate for Ohio House who was added days before voting started.

County elections officials say a mistake by a vendor caused Democratic voters in the 39th Ohio House District who requested ballots by mail for the August primary to get ballots without the write-in option for that race.

Democrat Leronda Jackson was added as a write-in candidate just days before mailing of absentee ballots began. The Ohio Supreme Court ordered the elections board to accept her paperwork after the board initially denied it for missing a filing deadline imposed by the Ohio Secretary of State. The issue led to a partisan rift at the usually bipartisan Montgomery County Board of Elections.

It’s unclear if the mistake could have impacted the election. Jackson is the only Democratic candidate running for the seat. But she needs 50 write-in votes to get her party’s nomination to run against incumbent state Rep. Phil Plummer, R-Butler Twp., in November. And turnout for this primary is expected to be miniscule because of the lack of competitive races.

The Dayton Daily News contacted the elections board after a reader reached out to the newspaper with the image of a ballot saying there are “No Valid Petitions Filed” by a Democrat for the 39th District. There should be a bubble and a line to write in the name of a write-in candidate in that space.

County elections officials said they were aware of the issue and traced it back to a vendor accidentally sending out a version of the ballot approved before Jackson was added.

“We can’t apologize enough to the voters that this happened,” said Board of Elections Director Jeff Rezabek. “We can assure the voters we are getting it corrected and their votes will count. Every vote is important to us.”

Not only are they sending out corrected ballots to the 177 voters, but they are calling and emailing voters they have information for, according to Board of Elections Deputy Director Sarah Greathouse.

“This is something we take very seriously,” she said.

Jackson said a voter reached out to her to let her know of the issue, which she took as a good sign that “voters are paying attention.”

“I feel like they (the board of elections) is doing their due diligence to correct the problem,” she said.

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