Benton County: 3,500 replacement ballots reprinted, mailed

Benton County has mailed almost 3,500 replacement ballots to registered voters because a ballot measure for the Benton Fire District 2 serving the Benton City area was not included in the first distribution of ballots.

Elections Supervisor Stuart Holmes said fire district officials voted last March to place the measure on the Aug. 7 ballot and sent the measure to the county by mail.

But the measure ended up getting misplaced in the mail, Holmes said.

Holmes said that is why county policy requires all ballot measures be hand-delivered to the elections department.

The oversight was discovered Thursday after the first round of ballots was delivered across the county, Holmes said.

"They called and said, 'Where is our measure?" We said, 'What measure?' " Holmes said.

The approximate cost of $1,167 to print and mail the substitute ballots will be absorbed by the county's auditor's office, Holmes said.

Postage was $467, and each ballot cost about 20 cents to print, he said.

The measure asks voters to support continuing an existing medical service tax levy equal to 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation annually for nine years. That would equate to $50 on a $100,000 home each year.

Holmes said voters in the fire district who already have voted and returned the first ballot are instructed to use the substitute ballot, vote again and return the new ballot as instructed.

Voters who have not yet voted should destroy the first ballot and use the new ballot.

Holmes said if both ballots are received by the Auditor's Office from a voter, only the new ballot will be counted.

Ballots returned through the U.S. Postal Service require first-class postage and must be postmarked Aug. 7 or before.

Voters also have the option of returning their ballot at no cost to any of seven secure drop boxes throughout the county.

-- John Trumbo: 582-1529; jtrumbo@tricityherald.com