Software error leads to delay for ballots

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OLYMPIA — A database error discovered last month resulted in nearly 7,000 voters statewide receiving their February special election ballots late.

The data error itself relates to a software issue in the Department of Licensing’s (DOL) driver licensing database system, which caused critical information not to be submitted to the Office of the Secretary’s of State (OSOS) Voter Registration Division under Washington’s Motor Voter law.

The error was first uncovered in late January and the OSOS and DOL worked together to determine that when some customers changed their name and were given a new driver license number, the changes were made in the DOL’s system, but not transferred to the OSOS’ system.

“We worked closely with the Office of the Secretary of State to identify and resolve this issue quickly,” DOL Director Pat Kohler said. “We regret these errors occurred and we have put in place new controls that monitor daily transmitted voter information to the Secretary of State to ensure it is complete and accurate. This error underscores the importance of replacing our decades-old driver licensing database system, which is scheduled to occur this September.”

The DOL worked in late January to develop and fix the system and the fix was released into production on Jan. 30. Out of the fix the DOL and OSOS were able to find 6,969 voters, 77 in Grant County and 13 in Adams County, who had been impacted because of the initial error.

“Our office identified nearly 7,000 applicants who need to be added to the voter rolls and issued a ballot. We are working closely with county election officials to ensure that these voters receive their February ballot in time for next week’s election,” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said.

The special election is scheduled for Tuesday. Voters who were affected by the error will be receiving special processing in order to receive their ballots this week.

“We are also conducting additional analysis to ensure – for all individuals who choose to register through DOL from this point forward – that the data is transferred to us so those applicants can be registered to vote,” Wyman explained. “Those tests will be ongoing and conducted on a daily basis.”

Washington voters can verify their address, name and registration by visiting myvote.wa.gov. Voter status-related questions are encouraged to be directed to local auditors. The Grant County Auditor’s Office can be contacted by calling 509-754-2011. The Adams County Auditor’s Office can be contacted by calling 509-659-3249.

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