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Delivery of absentee ballots delayed by printing woes; deadline expected to be met

Santa Clara Local News    San Jose Mercury   20 October 2005

Printing problems have delayed delivery of absentee ballots by a week in Santa Clara County, but the registrar of voters will be mailing them out over the next few days, well before the Nov. 1 deadline. The election is Nov. 8.

The registrar's office can begin mailing the ballots 29 days before the election, and hoped to have sent them out last week, said Assistant Registrar Elaine Larson. But when the ballots arrived from the printer, there were problems with the bar coding that ensures only one ballot goes into each envelope, and with the scoring that ensures folds don't interfere with votes.

The contracted printer, Oakland-based Sequoia Voting Systems, which also manufactures the touch-screen voting machines used by the county, had to send another batch, Larson said.

More than 200,000 of the nearly 800,000 registered Santa Clara County voters have requested absentee ballots, Larson said. The county requires 18 different versions to accommodate various languages and local elections.

Some voters said the delay will cause problems for them. Marilyn McDonald of Palo Alto said she plans to leave town in a few days and is not sure her ballot will arrive in time. Traveling to San Jose to cast her vote at the registrar's office would be a burden, she said.

``I feel I'm about to be disenfranchised,'' McDonald said.

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