Poll worker mistake leads to mishap in state house race

Residents in Rockford voted for the wrong candidate in the District 8 State House race.

It is not a matter of opinion. They just didn’t get the correct ballot at the precinct.

Libby Breeding, Blount County administrator of elections, said it wasn’t known how many people voted using the incorrect ballot. Breeding said Beth Koella, wife of Rockford mayor Carl Koella, contacted her before noon, and she immediately sent a technician and another election commission employee to sort out the problem.

“Yes, there was an error. The ballot was correct. It was a human error,” Breeding said.

Breeding said poll workers accidentally gave voters the ballot for voting in the 20th House District instead of the correct ballot for the Eighth District. Instead of choosing between candidates Scott Hughes, Art Swann, Joe McCulley and Geoff King, they got the 20th House District ballot showing Republican incumbent Bob Ramsey as unopposed.

Koella said that while she was voting she realized something was wrong with the ballot and saw the problem when she inspected the sample ballot outside the polling area at Rockford Elementary.

“They had District 20 instead of District 8, so I didn’t get to vote for Art Swann,” she said.

Breeding said that besides the State House race, the ballot was correct on every other race. “That means they voted for every person as they would have. The only one incorrect was the House district. If they were supposed to vote for (Eighth District candidates) Scott Hughes, Art Swann, Joe McCulley or Geoff King, they instead got the 20th District ballot which had Rep. Bob Ramsey as unopposed,” she said. “Everything else on the ballot is identical.”

Breeding said the appropriate people were notified. “We’ve had discussions with the state and they’re aware of it, and I’ve contacted all four candidates in that race, and they’re aware of it,” she said. “Until the race is over, and we see how much someone won by, we don’t know what the next step will be.”

Breeding said turnout has been steady throughout the county. “There have been no lines but it has not been a heavy turnout,” she said.

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