About 3,000 absentee voters in Stearns County were mailed new ballots this week after an employee in the county's elections office discovered that the name of an incumbent judge had been omitted.
Steven Cahill, a candidate for court judge in Seventh Judicial District Court, is running unopposed, and his name appears on ballots in Becker, Benton, Clay, Douglas, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Todd and Wadena counties.
But somehow his name was left off a list of 27 judges that appears on original ballots printed for Stearns County voters, and it wasn't discovered until more than 107,000 ballots has been printed and 3,000 mailed out to absentee voters, said Dave Walz, Stearns County elections director.
Walz said a number of factors contributed to the omission.
The list of judges was compiled by the secretary of state's office and mailed to each of the 10 counties in the Seventh District.
Cahill's name did not appear on any of the ballots, but officials in other counties caught the mistake and notified the printer before they went to press. The omission was not detected by officials in Stearns County
"We signed off on it. We're responsible, we missed it," Walz said. "The printer changed the others, but not ours. It just seemed all the events that could happen conspired. It is one of those odd circumstances."
Walz said that Cahill was the last judge to appear on the ballot and that he had not been on the ballot in his district before, which might have contributed to the error.
Cahill serves in Clay County and was appointed to the bench by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2006. It is his first run for election.
Voters who received replacements for the misprinted ballots have the option to recast their ballot, with the opportunity to vote for Cahill. Or they can do nothing.
Original ballots without Cahill's name will stand if voters opt not to send in their replacement ballots, Walz said.
Polling places will have the corrected ballots on Election Day, Walz said.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768#