Ballots for Prinsburg race will be reprinted due to error

PRINSBURG -- Voters in the city of Prinsburg are sure to cast ballots for the correct city candidates on Nov. 7, but we're not necessarily talking about being politically correct.

PRINSBURG -- Voters in the city of Prinsburg are sure to cast ballots for the correct city candidates on Nov. 7, but we're not necessarily talking about being politically correct.

New ballots are being printed for voters in Prinsburg. The name of council candidate Robert Huizenga was accidentally omitted from the original ballots, and a wrong name listed in his place.

City Clerk Cindy Vander Well said her office accidentally pulled out a previous year's election form, and consequently listed council member Harvey Roelofs on the ballot in place of Huizenga.

The form was submitted to the office of Auditor/Treasurer Sam Modderman.

That office oversees the printing of the ballots for all of the precincts in Kandiyohi County.


The ballots were printed, showing a three-way race for two council posts in Prinsburg. Candidates listed were Roelofs, Mary Ryks and Mitch Swart.

No one might have noticed the mistake until sample ballots were published in the local newspaper, except for an editor at the West Central Tribune.

The Tribune used the county's official listing of candidates to send out election questionnaires to local candidates in contested races. When the Tribune contacted Harvey Roelofs to ask why he hadn't returned his, he had an easy answer: He wasn't up for election this year.

The Tribune made an inquiry to the county auditor/treasurer's office about the matter, and it led to the discovery of the mistake.

Steps are now being taken to correct it, Modderman said. He said 450 new ballots are being printed with Huizenga, Ryks and Swart listed as the three official City Council candidates. The incorrect ballots are being destroyed.

Modderman said there is plenty of time in this case to reprint the ballots and correct the computer programming that reads them. Vander Well said there is a list of all of those who requested absentee ballots. They will be contacted and provided new ballots.

She said she didn't believe there were many who had requested absentee ballots.

No one was more surprised by the situation than candidate Robert Huizenga. He said he has served on the City Council for more years than he can remember. He dates his start of council service to around the time that the Prinsco tile company opened, which would be 1975, according to the company's Web site history.


Huizenga said he briefly considered not running due to his busy work schedule, but ultimately decided to do so and dutifully pay his $2 filing fee.

Until contacted by the Tribune on Monday, Huizenga, Roelofs and the city clerk all said they were unaware that the name mix-up had made it on to the official ballot.

Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer said she does not know of a case in Minnesota when the wrong name was printed on ballots and used in an election. She said local election jurisdictions have the authority to take emergency, corrective action if a mistake is discovered when it is too late to reprint the ballots.

Had Prinsburg not discovered the mistake until Election Day, the city copy machine could have been pressed into service for voters in that precinct. Kiffmeyer said that in such a situation, a candidate would have cause to bring action in court and seek a special election.

Mistakes do happen, and Kandiyohi County's need to reprint 450 ballots is not as bad as the dilemma Hennepin County once faced. Kiffmeyer said the state's most populated county once discovered it had misspelled the name of a judicial candidate and had to reprint all of its ballots prior to the election.

The secretary of state said her office offers a public accuracy test and invites all candidates to proof the ballots prior to the election.

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