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‘Human Error’ Caused Hinds County Election Day Ballot Shortages, Commissioners Say

JACKSON, Miss.—The Hinds County Election Commission told a coalition of voting-rights advocates on Dec. 18 that “human error” and a mixup of ballot order forms for split precincts caused the ballot shortages on Nov. 7 that sparked national outrage and led to a judge ruling to keep voting precincts open late that Election Day. Commissioners and Hinds County Circuit Clerk officials met for a second time with the group to answer questions about what caused the debacle, to express their desire for additional training for poll workers and to discuss how advocates could collaborate with the commission to prevent another ballot shortage in future elections.

“We took a look and determined on our own that two reports were inverted,” Hinds County Commissioner for District 2 RaToya Gilmer McGee said. She explain that the ballot shortage happened because someone at the Hinds County Election Commission office entered incorrect information into their ballot ordering system. That oversight led to the commission ordering an incorrect number of ballots to cover the expected number of voters in Hinds County.

McGee held up the different ballot reports they used to order ballots and showed the incorrect form that was used. “Once we realized the issues, there was nothing we could do the day of the election,” she said.

Hinds County Commissioner for District 2 RaToya Gilmer McGee, pictured left, shows ballot reports to voting-rights attorney Amir Badat. McGee said on Dec. 18, 2023, that “human error” led to the ballot shortages during the Nov. 7, 2023, election. Photo by Shaunicy Muhammad

The commission orders ballots ahead of elections from an out-of-state printing company, the commissioner explained. Once Election Day came and they realized the mistake, commissioners had to manually print additional ballots themselves.

“(It was) complete human error,” McGee said. “We hate that the citizens of Hinds County experienced that.”

At least nine voting precincts in Hinds County ran out of ballots on Election Day. WLBT reported on Nov. 7 that Hinds County District 5 Election Commissioner Shirley Varando had cited an “unexpectedly large turnout” as the problem. Varando did not attend either of the

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