ALBANY – Phoenix Graphics has been a family-owned business in Rochester that has roots back to the Great Depression.
Now it is at the center of a mishap in Brooklyn over 100,000 misprinted absentee ballots for the November elections that included erroneous envelopes.
New York City Board of Elections executive director Michael Ryan said Tuesday that Phoenix Graphics will reprint the ballot packages and mail them out to affected voters.
He said Phoenix has agreed to pay for the cost of the additional printing, according to the Gothamist.
“It is essential that confidence be established in this process and that we make certain that all of the voters who potentially have a problem have a full and fair opportunity to remedy that problem,” Ryan said.
About 800 ballots in Nassau County were also misprinted, according to Newsday. Voters names were correct on the mailing envelope, but the oath envelope inside contained the name and address of another voter, the paper said.
Phoenix President Sal DeBiase said in a statement Wednesday morning that it learned it had experienced “mechanical-inserting issues when producing 2020 General Election Absentee ballots for Kings County and Nassau County.”
The company said the problems were less than 1% of the mailings that had been sent out.
“Future mailings will not be affected,” DeBiase said. “Phoenix Graphics is in the process of reprinting and mailing all materials to correct the project and will be covering all expenses related to production and postage.”
He added: “We have prided ourselves on accuracy and quality in our 40-year history of printing ballots. We are truly sorry for the inconvenience that has occurred. We are actively making necessary production adjustments to prevent such errors in the future.”
Phoenix has been producing ballots for counties across New York for decades and has done so for about three-quarters of them, according to a 2015 profile of the company in the Democrat and Chronicle.
This year, more counties turned to outside vendors to produce their absentee ballots as requests have surged due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Already, the state portal to get an absentee application hit 331,000 requests outside New York City, compared to about 500,000 total in the state in 2016, the state Board of Elections said.
The mishap drew sharp rebukes from state and city officials, saying the integrity of the ballots need to be assured.
“It’s appalling,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “I don’t know how many times we’re going to see the same thing happen at the Board of Elections and be surprised.”
It also led to a dispute among state officials. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office weighed in that the city shouldn’t send out all new ballots, just corrected envelopes.
“We don’t control the board of elections but our recommendation was that sending corrected envelopes will ensure that any person that got an erroneous envelope can still vote,” Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, said in a statement.
“There is nothing wrong with the actual ballots and sending 100,000 duplicate ballots seems to be an overcorrection.”
Some state lawmakers, though, blasted the idea.
“We are hearing reports that @NYGovCuomo wants to prevent the @BOENYC from rectifying the issue by stopping them from sending corrected ballots,” Sen. Zellnor Myrie, D-Brooklyn, wrote Tuesday night on Twitter.
“This is straight-up disenfranchisement and an affront to our democracy. The vendor screwed up and is trying to fix it. Let them!”
De Blasio said New York City residents received a wrong ballot, they should call 866-VOTE-NYC to get a new one.
Joseph Spector is the New York state editor for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JSPECTOR@Gannett.com or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany
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