Amid voter complaints and concerns for privacy, Secretary of State Scott Schwab ordered the Johnson County Election Office to halt sending out pre-filled advance voting ballot applications.
The county began sending such applications for ballots in 2020 when the pandemic resulted in many voters mailing back their ballots. The practice was discontinued the next year and in 2022 but resumed this year. JOCO Election Commissioner Fred Sherman said his office had received about 1,000 completed applications. The rest already sent to voters are still valid.
Voter Joyce Grashoff had concerns about election integrity:
“I’m concerned that Johnson County electoral office sent out unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots. We didn’t ask for this. They were all pre-filled with name and birthdate and address. How many went to wrong household because the voter had moved? How many went to nursing homes and memory care centers where the resident has no capacity to understand voting but might be picked up and filled out by someone else? And other issues.”
Secretary Schwab’s statement read:
“For the 2023 General municipal election, Mr. Sherman mailed pre-populated advance mail ballot applications to active registered Johnson County voters. This took place in early September.
The office’s concern was voter privacy and confusion. Therefore, we have directed Mr. Sherman to not send pre-populated mail ballot applications again going forward.”
JOCO Commissioner Charlotte O’Hara also got one of the unsolicited applications. She was not pleased with receiving it and feels voters are capable of requesting a ballot on their own:
“All of this conflict of people over whether our elections are safe and secure. You do things like this, and it just puts more doubt in people’s minds,”
According to Sherman, the mailing cost county taxpayers over $65,000.
We reached out to the Election Office for comment. There was no response.