PEORIA, AZ - Voters in the Mesquite District in Peoria will receive a third ballot, hopefully, containing all three candidates running for a vacant seat on the Peoria City Council, after errors with the first two omitted a candidate, the council decided at an emergency meeting Thursday.
The emergency meeting was called after Dr. Ken Krieger's name was missing from 8,500 ballots mailed out last week, and then accidently omitted from the replacement ballots that were mailed out on Monday.
The council voted 3-2 to mail new ballots to voters in the Mesquite District.
Peoria City Manager Carl Swenson said the council had to "choose which option was the least bad." Ben Toma, a current councilor, and candidate in the city council race, recused himself from the vote.
"We can't take a position as a city that we're not going to count a vote because of someone's error," Toma said.
The council will also open three remote voting locations on Election Day, according to the City of Peoria.
Residents will now have three different colored ballots hit their mailbox: The first incorrect ballot was enclosed in a yellow envelope, and the replacement ballots, which were also incorrect, were sent in white envelopes.
It is not clear what color envelopes the third ballots will be sent out in.
Candidate Bridget Binsbacher urged voters to pay close attention to the details.
"It is confusing. And all I can do is encourage voters to pay attention, to read the papers, to read their ballot, read the instructions and vote," she said.
Karen Osborne, elections director for Maricopa County, said the initial error was her fault. She said Krieger was removed from the ballot after he was challenged, and she forgot to put him back on the ballot.
Osborne said a corrected ballot was sent to a print company, but somehow the company re-printed and mailed out the original incorrect ballot, not the corrected one.
The first ballot error will cost taxpayers an estimated $15,000. Osborne said the cost of the second ballot error, and the new replacement ballots, will fall on the printing company.
The City Council said the new replacement ballots will supersede the two incorrect ballots. However, if a voter doesn't return the new replacement ballot, but returns one of the incorrect ballots, the incorrect ballot will be counted.
An attorney said the county has to accept all votes or it could prompt legal issues.
Krieger's lawyer filed a 22-page legal complaint in federal court against the City of Peoria, the mayor, city councilors, the City Clerk and the Maricopa County Supervisors, County Recorder, and Director of Elections Karen Osborne. Krieger is calling for a special election.
"It's wrong, it's more confusing than ever. I've never heard anything like this before," Krieger said after the council vote.
The City of Peoria has been instructed to educate voters who may be confused by the ballot mix ups.