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Statement on Ballot Error and Reprinting

MONTGOMERY – Today, Friday December 2, 2016 the Secretary of State’s Office was updated on the final costs incurred related to the reprinting of the ballot for the November 8 General Election.  The final invoice for the reprinting of 2,917,201 ballots was $459,690.80.  Based on previous records and other information available to us, the usual approximate cost to complete the ballot design, printing, and delivery part of an election cycle is projected at $2.3 million statewide.

The ballot had to be reprinted to add the complete required language to the ballot in order to capture the entire statement that had been prepared in the original legislation. Once the error was discovered, Secretary Merrill immediately contacted the service provider and instructed them to stop printing the ballots.  All required ballot styles had not yet been printed.  Secretary Merrill then directed his staff to make the required, corrected changes and recertify the corrected ballot language to the vendor so printing could be completed.

The initial ballot language was certified to the state’s election services vendor omitting two paragraphs required to provide complete information to the voters. The employee that was assigned this task no longer works for the Secretary of State’s Office.  All other disciplinary measures and actions associated with this project are personnel matters and will not be addressed or discussed in the media.

Secretary Merrill sent a letter to the state comptroller requesting that all costs associated with this printing be covered by the State of Alabama to place no additional, undue burden on the counties.

The final total for the reprinting services will be paid in full by the State of Alabama.  Since January 19, 2015, the Secretary of State’s office has asked to be zeroed out of the State’s General Fund Budget and now receives no appropriation from the state.  Through various cost savings measures, including the departure of 24 of the 48 employees on payroll since January 19, 2015, costs saving measures have produced $1,636,858.21 in line item savings for the people of Alabama. 

Subtracting this $459,690.80 from the savings of $1,636,858.21 means the actual realized savings are totaled at $1,177,167.41.