Douglas County officials sort through rejected absentee ballotsGordon Diekman and Ashley Secord-Holmes have a lot in common. Both are 2008 Jefferson High School graduates and first-year out-of-state college students. Both voted in their first election this year. And neither had their vote count.
By: Mike Enright, Alexandria Echo Press
Gordon Diekman and Ashley Secord-Holmes have a lot in common.
Both are 2008 Jefferson High School graduates and first-year out-of-state college students.
Both voted in their first election this year.
And neither had their vote count.
Diekman and Secord-Holmes represent two of the 57 absentee voters whose ballots Douglas County rejected during last month’s election.
Now, as Minnesota’s historic U.S. Senate recount drags on, county elections officials – under orders from the Secretary of State’s office – on Tuesday reviewed and sorted Douglas County’s rejected absentee ballots.
County staff spent a little more than an hour stacking the 57 rejected ballots into four different categories explaining why the vote didn’t count, said Polly Holder, Douglas County deputy auditor/treasurer.
The categories (and number of rejected ballots) were:
•Voter’s name or address on ballot didn’t match that on registration (1).
•Voter’s signature didn’t match or he or she didn’t properly certify the ballot (25).
•Voter was not registered at the address listed, not properly registered or the person died before election day (6).
•Voter already voted in person (6).
Holder said the staff was looking for ballots that would fall into a fifth category – ones wrongfully rejected by county elections officials, which are to be passed on to the state Canvassing Board.
“And we didn’t find any of those,” Holder said.
Representatives from both the Minnesota DFL and Republican parties watched staff review the rejected absentees, Holder said, and they all agreed on the reason each ballot wasn’t counted.
But there were 19 rejected ballots, including Diekman’s and Secord-Holmes’, that didn’t get placed in any pile. They didn’t count because they were late.
“I was rushing it,” Diekman said, “and I guess the mailman didn’t get there on time.”
Both he and Secord-Holmes said they waited too long before contacting Douglas County officials to get an absentee ballot.
By the time they got the ballots and filled them out, each said they mailed the ballots back two days before election day.
Neither one made it back to the county by the deadline.
“It’s more my fault than anyone else’s,” Diekman said. “I was dealing with a lot of things down here – working and going to school full-time.
“I just didn’t put that priority [of voting] first.”
Secord-Holmes said she is disappointed that her vote didn’t count, but she knows why.
“I applied for the ballot too soon to election day,” she said, “so I can only be disappointed in myself.”
Despite their shared experience, Diekman and Secord-Holmes do have one difference when it comes to this year’s election.
Diekman voted for Norm Coleman. Secord-Holmes chose Al Franken.