2 Minnesota counties seek court order after receiving flawed ballots

Election officials say the information was inadvertently left off ballots by a printing vendor

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ST. PAUL — Two northwestern Minnesota counties are seeking a court order allowing a redo of ballots after discovering flaws with ballots printed by a vendor that does work for several counties in the state.

Kittson County and Roseau County officials asked the Minnesota Supreme Court for direction on fixing ballots that failed to include political affiliation in all partisan races and incumbency status for judges as required by law.

The high court has fast-tracked the cases.

In their petitions, election officials in the two counties say the information was inadvertently left off ballots by a printing vendor. Both use SeaChange Printing and Marketing for their mail and absentee ballot programs.

In both cases, party labels were assigned only in the governor’s race and not any other state or federal contests.


Both rural counties rely heavily on mail ballots, not all of which had been sent when the problem was discovered.

Court papers say only 25 voters had returned ballots in Kittson County as of late last week. Martha Monsrud, who oversees elections in Roseau County, said 124 ballots had been returned to her office before the problem surfaced. She said a voter alerted her to the omissions.

In other ballot-flaw cases, the high court has quickly ordered steps to fix problems, alert affected voters and get new ballots to people who had already sent theirs in.

An official with SeaChange said the problem with the missing party and incumbent designations happened only in Roseau and Kittson counties.

In a filing in one of the cases, an attorney for Secretary of State Steve Simon said the office supports an order that would allow anybody who cast a ballot without the proper information be given the chance to submit a new one.

“To protect the electorate’s right to the candidate information prescribed by state law, every voter who attempted to vote on the old, inadequate ballot must, at a minimum, be informed that it contained insufficient information and then be given an opportunity to spoil their ballot and vote a new ballot that conforms to state law,” wrote Nathan Hartshorn, the assistant attorney general who works with the secretary’s office.

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