Riverside County mailed out 5,000 duplicate ballots in error, but double votes won’t go through

A voter stands at a polling place in a church.
A voter fills out his ballot in the recreation center at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Fontana in 2020.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
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About 5,000 people in Riverside County will receive duplicate vote-by-mail ballots for the November midterm election after a “computer system error,” but the mistake won’t allow voters to cast ballots twice, according to the county registrar.

The computer error was caught over the weekend, but not before 5,000 mail-in ballots were sent to voters living in Canyon Lake, Menifee, Murrieta, Wildomar and Winchester, said Rebecca Spencer, the Riverside County registrar of voters.

Spencer recommended anyone who receives identical ballots to destroy the extra copy.

“It is important to note that none of the duplicate ballots will result in a voter being able to cast more than one ballot,” Spencer said in a news release. “I take election integrity seriously and apologize for the inconvenience.”


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Nov. 8, 2022

Each vote-by-mail envelope has a unique bar code that, once scanned, will automatically lock a voter’s record so a second ballot cannot be accepted, Spencer said. If a voter returns both ballots, only the first would be processed and the second would be “automatically voided.”

Spencer said the computer error is “resolved and procedures have been put in place to prevent the error in the future.”

The mishap comes months after the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved a new citizens committee focused on election integrity, which can make recommendations to improve the voting process.

Though some election vigilantes in the county have claimed widespread voter fraud in recent elections, an in-depth investigation by the district attorney last year found only one case of voter fraud from the 2016 election, after pursuing hundreds of false leads. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S. in recent years, despite growing claims of such.

All registered voters, in Riverside and across the state, should receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the Nov. 8 election, but voters can also cast ballots in person or return completed ballots to any voting location.

California voters are making their picks in a number of local and statewide races, including for governor, and on seven statewide propositions.