Ballot mix-up could affect school board race results

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) -- Ingham County election officials are making sure the mid-term results for one local school board race is correct.

The first 122 voters who showed up at Foster Community Center in Lansing were given East Lansing School District ballots, but 88 of those people were not East Lansing residents.

"That precinct is split between two school districts so there are different candidates and different offices on the ballot," said Chris Swope, Lansing City Clerk.

The City of Lansing has 45 precincts and only 5 have some type of split precinct.

Swope said the East Lansing and Lansing ballots were placed in the same bag which caused some confusion and ultimately led to the precinct workers pulling the wrong ballots.

After becoming aware of the mistake, every voter afterwards was given the correct ballot, though all 122 votes ended up being counted.

"We train those people and we had gone over this in training, but I guess somehow it didn't click," Swope said.

As Ingham County Clerk, Barb Byrum programs the election and orders the ballots. The ballots are sent to the local clerk and they are administered on election day.

"We've reached out to the state. There isn't a remedy that the state has provided. The Ingham County Board of Canvassers is currently working on certifying the election," Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk.

The Lansing School District elections were uncontested so their outcome wasn't affected, but the unofficial results in East Lansing show 4th place candidate Kath Edsall leads 5th place Noel Garcia by only 60 votes.

Edsall: 6,671
Garcia: 6,611

Here is Noel Garcia's full statement:

"The integrity of our elections is of the utmost importance to ensure that the people's voices are heard and to instill confidence in our democracy. The recently reported irregularities in this week's election are alarming. While I have the utmost respect for our election officials and appreciate their diligent efforts during this campaign season, we must confirm that the reported irregularities have not affected the outcome of the election by denying people their right to vote or allowing people to vote in the wrong election. I look forward to reviewing the results of what I hope is a thorough investigation into the reported irregularities."

News 10 also reached out to Kath Edsall who referred us to Swope.

Whether the race's results would be affected, Byrum said this, "Ingham County results rarely change much after the Ingham County Board of Canvassers meet. There likely won't be much changed once the unofficial results are published. once they are certified, I will certainly be certifying the results and alerting all of those individuals who were elected."

Swope said he's taking full responsibility for the mistake. He's debriefing election workers and taking steps to make sure the mistake doesn't happen again.

The County Board of Canvassers' may take up to two weeks to certify the results.