Sep 29, 2022 - Politics

"Clerical error" leaves dead candidate on St. Paul House ballot

Illustration of error pop-up in the ballot box slot

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

More than 1,000 Ramsey County voters have received ballots that erroneously list a dead state House candidate who is no longer in the running for the East St. Paul seat.

What happened: Beverly Peterson, the GOP's candidate for House District 67A, died in early August. Republicans were able to nominate Scott Hesselgrave to replace her and face Democrat Liz Lee in the November election.

  • Ramsey County says the Secretary of State's office informed election officials that a change was needed on Aug. 29. Officials updated and proofread the ballot, but due to a "clerical error," the county sent the wrong version to the printer, according to a court filing.

The problem: Local election officials didn't notice the error until Sept. 23, the first day of early voting. Under state law, they can't pull the ballots or print new ones without the state Supreme Court's permission.

What they're doing: The county filed an "errors and omissions" petition with the court asking justices to allow elections officials to print new ballots.

  • Officials also want the court's permission to reach out to early absentee voters to tell them that they can "spoil" their ballot and cast a new one with the correct match-up.

Of note: Under the proposal, votes for the deceased candidate that were not clawed back will not count toward the final tally.

What he's saying: Hesselgrave, who faces long odds in a district that heavily favors the DFL, told the Star Tribune he didn't know about the error until he read about it in the newspaper.

  • "[My campaign] is a long shot for a lot of reasons, even what led to me running begs for a healing message," he said. "Maybe this will help it get out there."

What's next: The Supreme Court plans to expedite a decision on the matter.

  • The court set end-of-week deadlines for parties involved to file memos in the case.
  • A county spokesperson told Axios that the elections office should be able to receive reprinted ballots within four days of ordering them. Some corrected ballots would be available immediately for in-person voting.

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