Thursday, December 9, 2004/lk
The Hood River County Board Commission race between Maui Meyer and Bob Hastings has been nullified by the discovery that 200 ballots were cast erroneously.
New ballots will be sent to District 2 voters, though county officials have not determined the exact timetable.
On Friday, Dave Meriwether, county administrator, announced that a review of the May 18 primary election records had revealed the problem. He said voters outside District 2 were allowed to weigh in on the race between incumbent Hastings and Meyer.
According to Meriwether, the error was caused when the district number was inadvertently changed. He said that change apparently occurred when the properties were annexed into a city precinct and given the same number.
Since the commissioner race was close, with Meyer capturing the seat by 17 votes, Meriwether said the county had no choice but to decertify the election. He said it is unclear how many of the 200 ineligible ballots might have been returned but the number will most likely be higher than 17. The problem in the ballot count was discovered by Hastings while he was preparing for a recount.
“We do apologize to the people of Hood River County and the candidates, their families and their supporters. Unfortunately, human error exists in the world and this was one of those incidents,” said Meriwether, who has initiated a complete scrutiny of the county’s balloting system and election procedures.
County counsel Teunis Wyers will file in Circuit Court to have the election officially decertified next week. Meriwether said the registered voters of District 2 will then receive a new ballot in the mail as soon as another election date has been set.
“I am shocked, this is really unfortunate. Let’s just finish this up so we can concentrate on running the county instead of discussing issues,” Meyer said.
“It (discovery) was kind of an accident. We were just looking at the addresses on the county list of registered voters and one thing led to another,” said Hastings.