When a Kentucky state audit found a discrepancy in its reported primary numbers, the Daviess County Clerk’s Office discovered 66 ballots unaccounted for.
Daviess was one of six counties randomly picked for a state audit and, because counting was mainly conducted electronically instead of manually, the clerk’s office didn’t realize the error until the audit process.
“In four weeks, at the same time you had ballot packets going out, ballots coming back in, and so things just got overlooked,” Daviess County Clerk Leslie McCarty said.
After initially thinking they were among the rejected ballots, staff eventually discovered they were never even counted. The missing ballots were found after the clerk's office spent days searching through 32,000 envelopes by hand.
“The ballots were discovered locked away in the courthouse basement where we were keeping everything because we have to keep everything in impound after an election,” McCarty said.
It's an oversight the clerk’s office said never should have happened and one that was only realized because of the audit.
“I’m glad they were audited," said Daviess County voter Ryan Pigford. "I wish they could audit every county because they’re really important to understand and find where the process kind of broke down.”
To try and prevent ballot discrepancies in the future, Daviess County will focus on a manual count system to help lessen the load on poll workers.
“We’ll still have the same amount of employees but only say, two employees -- a Democrat and a Republican -- will handle those tasks at a time, and they will only open 20 ballots, process 20 ballots at a time instead of say a big stack," McCarty said.
She said by having groups count fewer ballots at a time, there will be less likelihood of them being overlooked in the future.
The audit is still in process and a report will be brought before the Daviess County Board of Election during its September 8 meeting.