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Those who got two absentee ballots still get only one vote, official warns

As a result of a glitch at the Erie County Board of Elections, some voters have received two absentee ballots for the upcoming election.

But anyone tempted to follow the adage to "vote early and vote often" will be disappointed.

The board's system of checks and balances will prevent people from voting more than once, said Ralph Mohr, the Republican elections commissioner, who disputed broadcast reports that duplicate ballots had gone out to hundreds of voters.

"It wasn't hundreds," he said Friday. "We think it's probably under 20 people."

But how did it happen?

"Somewhere along [in] the processing of our absentee ballots, the computer program we used stopped," Mohr explained.

As steps were taken to correct the problem, Mohr said a small number of ballot applications were processed twice.

But the principle of one person, one vote will prevail, he insisted.

"When ballots are returned, they're scanned. If someone tries to vote twice, we catch it," he said.

But the glitch has led to an additional safeguard, Mohr said.

As absentee ballots come in, they will be sorted by district and alphabetized by name. That means human eyes will search for duplicates even before the ballots undergo computer scanning.

Voters who received two ballots are urged to destroy one and return the other.

Mohr said he realizes that the electoral process is built on trust and integrity. But he added that he doesn't think the recent mistake will be a black eye for the Board of Elections.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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