Incorrect election date printed on thousands of Berkeley voter ballots

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Sierra Brown/Staff

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Alameda County officials are reminding voters that election day is Tuesday, Nov. 4 in the wake of a printing error that incorrectly stated the date of the upcoming election on a number of vote-by-mail envelopes.

The error — printed on the ballots sent to approximately 27,000 Berkeley voters — stated that election day was Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. According to a press release, a printer used by Alameda County and other California counties has taken responsibility for the error.

“This is an unfortunate error on some vote-by-mail envelopes sent to voters in Berkeley and we deeply regret any confusion this may be causing,” said Tim Dupuis, registrar of voters, in a statement. “We are glad that we discovered the error relatively early in the process.”

The registrar has mailed letters to voters who received envelopes with the erroneous date, as well as sent out emails.

Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, said that these sorts of situations can impact voter turnout and elections.

“The good news is that they’ve sent out emails and letters to people correcting the mistake — on the one hand, they make mistakes, but on the other this could be costly,” Brady said. “No doubt there will be a few people who will show up on Wednesday or return an absentee ballot and find they can’t vote.”

Brady said the mistake may disproportionately affect younger voters, who are new to voting and may not know that election day is historically on Tuesdays.

Vote-by-mail ballots must be received by the registrar’s office or any polling place in Alameda County no later than 8 p.m. on Nov. 4. More than half of all registered voters in Alameda County choose to vote by mail, according to the office.

Murong Li, the chair of the UC Berkeley chapter of CALPIRG — an organization that has registered thousands of students to vote — said the group has done a number of outreach efforts to let people know about the election date.

“I’m just shocked that this kind of stuff would happen. It’s unfortunate, and students might be confused,” Li said. “Hopefully with a little bit more work, students won’t be disproportionately affected.”

Sophie Ho is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @sophanho.