Anoka County election officials say an unusual typographical error led them to report about 660 more voters than actually participated in a St. Francis public schools bonding referendum in late May.
The typo inflated the total number of voters but did not change the referendum results or the numbers of "yes" and "no" votes, said Cindy Reichert, the county's elections manager. The trouble came when the statistics were transposed and forwarded to the school board, she said.
"It was not a counting error," Reichert said. "It was not a mistake that was made in gathering the statistics."
The county reported that 5,270 voters participated in the May 23 special election, a total that the school board verified at its May 26 special meeting. The county then spotted the typo and revised the number to 4,606.
Reichert said it may be a result of someone's fingers "on the wrong place on the keyboard."
"It was literally a typo," she said.
When notified of the mistake, the school board called a second special meeting for June 2 to canvass the updated returns, said Tim Finn, the St. Francis district's director of special services. The district paid about $6,000 to Anoka County to run its election, Finn said.
The county has been doing elections by contract since 2007, Reichert said, adding that these types of errors are "not common."
Some school board members are questioning the county's explanation for the flub and have raised concerns about accuracy elsewhere.
"It was really concerning that we run a special election, and we had to pay the county for this service and they had given us a number that was over 600 off," said Marsha Van Denburgh, vice chairwoman of the St. Francis school board.
The referendum asked voters to decide on school improvement projects that could have put taxpayers on the hook for as much as $107 million. Voters rejected both bond questions.
Though the election outcome remained unchanged, the mistake merits more explanation, said Barbara Jahnke, the board's clerk.
"They seem to say something about transposing but that doesn't make any sense with the dramatic change in numbers," Jahnke said. "One always wonders, 'Is the rest of it right?' "