Flaw in Local Ballot Could Impact Results for Measure K

The issue has to do with what kind of pen you use to vote–a ball point pen or felt tip pen

A flaw in the ballots in San Diego could impact the results of an important local issue up for a vote in November, NBC 7 learned on Wednesday.

The issue has to do with what kind of pen you use to vote–a ball point pen or felt-tip pen.

"If you use the wrong pen, you could be voting inadvertently," said Sherri Lightner, San Diego City Councilmember for Distict 1.

When voters head to the polls in November, they could end up jotting down "yes" or "no" on Measure K without intending to cast their vote that way. That's because the line for Measure E on the other side of the ballot lines up perfectly to the line for Measure K.

If you use a wrong pen–such as a felt-tip pen, your answer could bleed through to the "yes" or "no" box for Measure K.

If passed, Measure K would require that the top two candidates who garnered the most votes in the June primary in the running for City Council, city attorney and mayor go head to head in the November runoff. Currently, candidates who receive the more than 50 percent of the votes in June win the election without a runoff.

A spokesperson for the Registrar of Voters told NBC 7 that workers manually inspect ballots for flaws similar to this one. The spokesperson said that if a voter had marked "yes" on Measure K, but there is ink bleeding into the "no" box from the other side, the machine would kick the ballot out. A worker would then review the ballot to make sure the intended vote was tallied up correctly.

Councilmember Lightner says this is not a sufficient method.

"But how do you interpret?" Lightner said. "This is almost akin to which way is the chad hanging? Which way did the voter intend if you in fact do have a 'yes' on E bleeding through to a 'no' on K and you vote 'yes' on K. What did the voter intend?" 

However, reprinting the ballots is not an option with the November 8 election so close. But Lightner said voters must be informed about the flaw.

"Today, we're asking the Registrar of Voters communicate with voters in the City of San Diego, alerting them to this problem and recommending the use of appropriate pens on the ballot," Lightner said.

The issue only impacts people in the City of San Diego.

Election officials will be reaching out to voters in the coming weeks about using a pencil or ballpoint pen to fill out the ballot and not a felt-tip pen.

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