A U.S. Postal Service data mixup led to some voters in the county to receive incorrect polling place information, Supervisor of Elections Kathy Dent announced Monday.
New voter information cards were mailed to Sarasota County voters beginning Friday, and of those, about 4,500 had addresses changed by the postal service's mail house, but it's unknown how many of those are incorrect.
The issue is the result of a mismatch between the voter’s address on file with the elections office and the address contained in postal service records, according to Dent. So when the address was updated by the mail house, the polling place was not updated.
“In preparation to mail voter information cards to voters, my office sent a data file to the mail house. The data contained the voters’ names and addresses, provided by the voters and on file with the SOE office," Dent said in a statement. "The data file also contained precinct, polling location and new political district information associated with each individual address on record.
“The mail house, which has access to the USPS address change records, unilaterally and without notice to the SOE updated residence and mailing information for some voters using the USPS records,” Dent said.
The Supervisor of Elections office relies on voters to tell the elections office of an address change and does not rely on the USPS, which uses its own system to verify and update addresses.
Of the more than 280,000 Sarasota County voters, this means that at the very most, 1.6 percent of voters are affected, and is not expected to increase, according to the Supervisor of Elections.
Voters are assigned to precincts and polling locations based on their residence addresses – not mailing addresses.
The elections office is required by law to mail new cards to every voter as a result of the 2010 federal census and subsequent redistricting process
Dent said the mail house will resend voter information cards to the affected voters within the next 10 days to two weeks. If a voter receives a second voter information card, he or she should discard the first.
Voters with questions or who receive new cards, which contain incorrect address information, are urged to contact any SOE office at (941) 861-8600(Sarasota), (941) 861-3760 (Venice), or (941) 423-9540 (North Port).
This article has been updated.