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Today, the Barton County Clerk’s Office disclosed 14 ballots were found inside a locked ballot box during a routine post-election security review. 

“Although no primary races in Barton County were impacted, I felt it was necessary to disclose this very unfortunate situation,” said Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman.  “A voting precinct board worker placed sealed voted Advanced ballots that were returned by a voter to a voting precinct into their locked ballot box in error.  Instead, boards were instructed to place those Advanced ballots into a labeled bag for return to receiving personnel at the Clerk’s Office on election night for immediate tabulation.  Our office is taking appropriate action to determine how this mistake happened and will take additional steps to ensure it does not occur again,” said Zimmerman.

Until the county has completed its canvassing of election results, locked ballot boxes are never opened in the event an investigation or recount is ordered the ballots remain exactly as left on election night per state law. Barton County finalized its primary election results at the county canvass held on Monday, August 10th which allowed election officials to initiate post-election security protocols.  Initial findings show the ballots were mistakenly placed in the locked ballot box and overlooked when precinct workers packed up their polling location for return on election night. 

State law does not allow a canvassing board to meet again after adjourning to correct a subsequently discovered mistake of which it had no prior notice.