Excel error causes problems with mail-in ballots

When it comes to voting, it is crucial to election officials that all participants cast their ballots properly. There are a number of ways in which an election, even a small, local one, can go wrong, resulting in an outcome that may be different from what the majority of voters want.

Voters who live along Lake Sutherland, Washington experienced some confusion in their last district election.

According to an article on the Peninsula Daily News, the owners of 325 land parcels, who have access to the lake, were supposed to vote on an annual $50-per-parcel tax to fund efforts to control Eurasian milfoil, an invasive species of aquatic plant. Ballots were mailed out to voters on July 11 and due back within a month.

There was a problem, however. The news source reported that return addresses on most of the ballot envelopes listed the wrong street number and ZIP code for the Clallam County Courthouse, where the ballots were due to be sent. It is possible that some ballots did not make it to the intended location as a result.

This mistake was reportedly caused by an error on an Excel spreadsheet. Upon realizing the problem, Clallam Noxious Weed Coordinator Cathy Lucero ensured that all voters were notified and that a second set of ballots would be mailed to those who had not already dropped theirs off at the courthouse.

Without proper training, it is easy for users to make basic spreadsheet errors that can throw off data sets. An Excel consulting firm can help them master spreadsheets.