Ballots go missing in Franklin County

An unusually high number of ballots have failed to arrive in Franklin County voters' mailboxes.

Auditor Zona Lenhart said the office hasn't determined yet if the ballots went missing at the printer or during the mailing process.

As of Wednesday, the office had received requests for 75 replacement ballots, Lenhart said. Replacement ballots are being sent to those voters.

"We really don't know how many ballots are affected," she said.

The county sent out 25,349 ballots. As of Thursday, the auditor's office had received about 3,942 ballots, or almost 16 percent of those sent, according to the auditor's website.

There doesn't seem to be a pattern for which ballots went missing, either. In some households with more than one voter, one person received a ballot and another did not, Lenhart said.

Ballots were mailed Oct. 12, and should have arrived in mailboxes around Oct. 13 or 14, she said.

Lenhart said her office never has had a problem like this before. It has led Lenhart to consider an option offered by the U.S. Postal Service to track each ballot for future elections.

"Every ballot is important," she said.

Benton County has not experienced a similar situation. Benton County elections supervisor Stuart Holmes said his department has received the normal amount of requests for ballot replacements because many have changed their addresses. He estimated the office has received about 50 calls so far.

The office prepares the ballots in-house, Holmes said. Ballots were mailed more than a week ago, so voters should have received them already.

Benton County had sent out 88,504 ballots, and received back 10,243 as of Wednesday, according to an elections return report. That's about 12 percent of the ballots the county issued.

Franklin County voters who have not received their ballots should call the auditor's office at 545-3538. Benton County voters should call 786-5618 or 736-3085 or go to www.bentonelections.com.

People can register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election until Monday by going to the Franklin County auditor's office in the Franklin County courthouse, 1016 N. Fourth Ave., Pasco; or the Benton County auditor's office, 5600 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick; 101 Wellsian Way, Suite E, Richland; or 620 Market St., Prosser.

The option is available for those who aren't already registered to vote in the state of Washington.