MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Imagine going to your polling location ready to cast your ballot only to find out you are no longer in the system. That's exactly what happened to one Montgomery woman.
Katherine Mallini has been an Alabama registered voter for 14 years and more than a year in Montgomery County. Yet, when she went to the same polling location she went to in March for the primaries, she was told she wasn't in the system.
"You walk in and expect your name to be on the list like it has been several other times before. So you are taken aback a little bit," recalls Mallini. "Once everything settles you think to yourself, people always talk about their vote counting and you didn't have an opportunity to voice your opinion in the election."
She called the Montgomery County Board of Registrars to figure out what happened. After doing some digging, officials found out another woman in Shelby County with the same first name and date of birth unknowingly cast Mallini's ballot.
Malllini was told after the other woman registered, someone with the Shelby County registrar's office went to validate it, found Mallini in the system and changed her last name and address, rather than adding the other woman to the system.
"Even if it's a one-off case scenario, that's one voice that wasn't heard that does have the right to vote in this state all because of a technicality," Mallini said.
Secretary of State John Merrill says it's the first case like this he's been notified of happening.
"If you have one mistake, that's one mistake too many. Because you have humans involved, you will have mistakes and so, you have to work to correct the mistakes," Merrill said.
He says they are working to make sure things like this and other incidents don't happen again.
"Because we have these errors that occur, we are in the process of studying the position of the Board of Registrar throughout the state of Alabama. We have had a task force to participate in this study since February of this year. We are trying to make sure that we have more professional individuals in this job and we are trying to make sure that we have more confident individuals that are in this job. We have some outstanding registrars and we have some registrars that need to find something else to do," explained Merrill.
Merrill encourages all voters to check your status before any election and make sure you are correctly registered. You can do so at alabamavotes.gov. You can also go there to register to vote.
Mallini says she plans to check from now on but hopes this prevents anyone else from missing out on their right to vote.
Officials say if you do have this or a similar incident happen to you, always cast a provisional ballot to make sure you still vote.