Republicans facing close races in three states send voters incorrect ballot info

Coincidence? GOP candidates in New York, Missouri and Ohio send out erroneous info to voters, blame their printers

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published October 25, 2018 5:30AM (EDT)

 (Getty/Paul J. Richards)
(Getty/Paul J. Richards)

Republicans in New York, Ohio and Missouri are under fire for sending inaccurate information to voters ahead of the midterm elections.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., sent a campaign mailer that gave voters the wrong deadline to submit their absentee ballots, Newsday reports. It is the second consecutive election in which Zeldin has sent erroneous information to voters.

The campaign mailer told voters to postmark absentee ballots by Nov. 6, even though the actual deadline in New York is Nov. 5, the day before Election Day.

Perry Gershon, the Democrat running to unseat the two-term congressman in a Long Island district that has long been dominated by Republicans, accused the Zeldin campaign of targeting voters likely to vote Democratic, like college students. Zeldin denied any wrongdoing and blamed the mistake on the printing company, which has accepted responsibility. The campaign said it sent out a second mailer with the correct date.

“We absolutely want everyone to be completely aware that the date to postmark absentee ballots is November 5,” the campaign said in a statement.

But Gershon's communications director Tim Minton insisted that the error was a “baldfaced attempt at voter suppression in Democratic areas of Suffolk County,” a large suburban and rural county comprising the eastern two-thirds of Long Island.

Zeldin, who won his previous re-election bid by nearly 20 points, leads Gershon by eight points in a recent New York Times/Siena College poll.

The Zeldin campaign also sent a mailer in 2016 that similarly listed the deadline for absentee ballots as a day after the actual deadline.

The Missouri Republican Party also drew criticism this week after it sent incorrect information about absentee ballot deadlines to 10,000 voters, the Kansas City Star reported.

The party's mailer said that individuals should return their ballots “today” and said the ballots were required to be submitted by Oct. 30. Ballots in Missouri are actually due by Election Day and requests for absentee ballots are not required until Oct. 31.

State Republican chief Ray Bozarth admitted the mistake and blamed a miscommunication between the party and the printing company, but would not say what company it was nor how the miscommunication occurred. He added that the party would send out new mailers with the correct information soon.

Missouri features one of the tightest and most significant Senate races of this cycle. Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley has a slight lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, according to recent polls.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Republican Party screwed up their slate card, which lists all of their candidates appearing on the statewide ballot. The card urges voters to submit an absentee ballot “today” or “bring it to the polls" on Election Day.

But voters in Ohio are not allowed to submit absentee ballots in polling places. reports that voters who bring in absentee ballots on Election Day will be required to travel to their county board of elections headquarters or to cast a provisional ballot that would not be counted until three weeks after the election.

A spokesman for the state GOP would not say how many voters received the erroneous information and insisted it was not a big deal.

"We are encouraging Republican voters to return their absentee ballots early," Kelly told the outlet. "If they choose to take it to their polling location or [to the board of elections], they will be able to vote."

Ohio has one of the closest governor's races in the country. Recent polls show Democrat Richard Cordray with a slight lead over Republican Mike DeWine to replace outgoing Republican Gov. John Kasich.

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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