Detroit pollbook issue resolved after error message says in-person voters had cast absentee ballots

Error messages incorrectly showed that some Detroit voters who hadn't cast ballots had voted absentee, the Michigan Department of State said.

It isn't clear how many voters experienced this issue Tuesday morning, but the issue was resolved.

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According to Jake Rollow, a spokesperson for the department, e-pollbooks were giving the error after election workers already confirmed the person was eligible to vote and had not voted already.

When this happened, voters were checked in on a backup paper list and issued ballots. Rollow said workers issued an additional digit in the ballot number to make it different.

"They may have used provisional ballots in some situations," Rollow said. "Those ballots were marked as why they were provisional, and they will be counted as standard ballots."

According to Rollow, some jurisdictions may have the same ballot numbers issued for in-person and absentee, but usually, that doesn’t matter in the e-poll book since absentee and in-person are kept separate.

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"Another voter may have been issued an absentee ballot with that number and they have voted that ballot, but that does not impact the voter who’s standing there in person," he said.

The department issued a statement about the problem:

"Today, the Michigan Bureau of Elections assisted the Detroit City Clerk's office to quickly address an issue with the city's e-pollbooks and ensured that all voters were able to vote. E-pollbooks are the laptops that are used at polling places to confirm voters are registered and that they have not already voted absentee.

"According to the Detroit Clerk's office, after confirming each voter was registered and had not been issued or cast an absentee ballot, poll workers provided a numbered ballot to each voter. Occasionally this morning, some e-pollbooks then displayed an error message stating that the number on the ballot at the polling place was the same as the number on an absentee ballot that had already been issued, even though the voter had not actually voted absentee. When this occurred, voters were correctly checked in on a paper backup list and issued ballots that were cast by the voters. These ballots will be counted.

"Whether using the electronic pollbook or the paper backup, procedures are in place to ensure a voter casts only one ballot."