Human error blamed for mistake on 2.7 million Alabama election ballots

Published: Sep. 29, 2016 at 4:26 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2016 at 10:56 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Nearly 3 million of Alabama's November general election ballots will have to be reprinted after an error was discovered.

According to Secretary of State John Merrill's Office, the office was notified Monday by a conservation group that the first two paragraphs of Amendment 2 were left off. The printing was immediately stopped, he said.

The amendment deals with allocation of state park funds, and the ballot should read:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any monies from the State Parks Fund, the Parks Revolving Fund, or any fund receiving revenues currently deposited in the State Parks Fund or the Parks Revolving Fund, and any monies currently designated pursuant to statute for the use of the state parks system from being transferred for another purpose other than the support, upkeep, and maintenance of the state parks system.

Notwithstanding, in the event that guest revenues to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceed the threshold of $50 million (as annually adjusted based on increases in the consumer price index) in a fiscal year, the sales and use and cigarette tax revenue distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be reduced in the following fiscal year. The amount of the reduction shall correspond to the amount of guest revenue to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceeding the threshold. The amount of tax revenue not distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be distributed to the General Fund.

Proposing an amendment to Amendment 617 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources the option to provide for the operation and management, by non-state entities, of hotels, golf courses, and restaurants at any applicable state parks in Alabama.

The secretary of state said this was the result of human error, and the person responsible is no longer an employee.

He said a total of 3.1 million ballots must be printed for the election. The entire project costs the state about $1 million.

John Bennett, Merrill's deputy chief of staff and communications director, said it's too early to determine how much this error will cost because they haven't received a final invoice from the vendor.

Merrill said the company said the ballot deadlines will still be met.

"It is a lot of ballots, and we have a lot of ballots in the state because it's a general election. So obviously this is the largest opportunity for our people to vote, and they will take advantage of that. We expect a record turnout this year," Merrill said.

Merrill said this isn't the only issue related to the ballots. A presidential candidate has filed a lawsuit and is trying to gain ballot access.

"We denied access to that candidate because we knew according to the way the law has been written, that individual would not be able to gain ballot access because of the sore loser law. But after the lawsuit was filed and it went to federal court then there have been some preliminary hearings held and there was a primary hearing held two days ago," Merrill said.

Merrill expects to have a ruling from the judge Friday.

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