Everything President Trump has said about this election is starting to come true. This is going to be a disaster.
“Voters in New York City have received mail-in ballots for the 2020 presidential election marked for military use despite never having served in the armed forces — causing confusion and concerns over whether the ballots can or should be used.
The misprint makes it appear that the voters received a “Official Military Absentee Ballot” instead of a “Military/Absentee Ballot,” leaving several borough residents who received the documents — including two Post journalists — worried that their votes might not be properly tallied.
“I believe that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, referring to the constituents in his Sunnyside district who have reached out to him about receiving the ballots. “It appears that everyone has gotten this particular ballot.”
RELATED: Almost 1,400 Virginia Voters Received Two Absentee Ballots In Mail – Report
Experts from both sides of the political aisle said the typo ultimately wouldn’t matter because the city Board of Elections uses the same ballots for both military voters and traditional absentee voters who live in the same district.
But it comes amid an already gathering storm over whether all absentee ballots would ultimately be counted in the high-stakes presidential election.
“There’s just mass confusion about these ballots and what people are supposed to do with them,” said Van Bramer, who told The Post he has received at least a dozen complaints from constituents.
“People were already not trusting this process and they were already not trusting the Board of Elections to count the ballot right.”
Beyond Sunnyside, non-service members also reported receiving the ballots in neighborhoods including Richmond Hill, Forest Hills and Astoria. Another was reported in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg.
Van Bramer, a Democrat, said the issue only adds to the worries in an already topsy-turvy election cycle that has seen an inordinate number of voters look to mail-in voting with the coronavirus pandemic raging on.
Van Bramer said he was informed by the city BOE that the issue stemmed from a typographical error, wherein a dash meant to separate the words “absentee” and “military” was dropped.
“This apparent typo just has everyone confused and believing these are invalid ballots,” he said. “It’s absolutely outrageous that when everyone is watching them, they still screw up the most basic thing, which is printing the ballot correctly.
“Did no one proof this?”
A spokeswoman for the city BOE confirmed that the punctuation was dropped, but insisted the ballots would be fully counted and that mail-in voters in all five boroughs should expect similar forms.
“It is [both] absentee and military,” said Valerie Vazquez. “It is the same ballot.”
Some 520,000 ballots have already been mailed but the Elections Board could not say how many of those have the error.
“It’s a screwup,” said John Ciampoli, veteran Republican elections lawyer. “I’ve been known to go after technical stuff in my day but that doesn’t even rise to that level.”
Election lawyer Martin Connor — a former Democratic state Senator from Brooklyn — pulled out his absentee ballot for the first time while on the phone.”I could see where voters would get confused and say, `I’m not in the military,’” Connor said. “There should be a dash or a slash.”
But he said any challenge to the ballot would be tossed out as “frivolous.”
The flubbed ballot header left Carl Flanigan, 48, confused.
“My first reaction is that I’m not in the military and didn’t ask for a military ballot,” the theater manager said. “I have a lot of respect for people in the military who sacrifice for our country. I would feel ashamed if I represented myself as in the military.”
Any absentee ballot cast in New York can be challenged for a variety of reasons, though six election law experts — three Republicans and three Democrats — interviewed by The Post Monday said there was little chance the typo would lead to a successful contestation.
“It’s the same ballot for absentee or military,” said Sarah Steiner, a leading Democratic election lawyer and head of the New York City Bar Association’s Election Law Committee. “Not a problem, no legal implications.”
Still, the latest city BOE flub left the co-chairman of the state Board of Elections, Doug Kellner aghast.
“I’m not happy about this,” said Kellner, who vowed an inquiry into the matter. “There are lots of questions of whether there is adequate quality control [at the city BOE].”
The body has previously caught flak from the White House on its handling of mail-in balloting for June’s primary contests, which were widely seen as a test run for remote voting’s viability in November.
President Trump in particular has voiced significant concerns about the security and expediency of mail-in voting, and Democratic challenger Joe Biden has reportedly bolstered his legal staff for a potentially bitter and protracted legal battle over possible hinky ballots.”
This article originally appeared on the New York Post.
Jeff Rainforth is a freelance photographer & news editor covering events on the US/Mexico border, and riots & unrest in Democrat-run cities.
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