- Associated Press - Saturday, June 13, 2015

DODGE CITY, Kan. (AP) - Questions have arisen after a zero was dropped in the Spanish translation on a bilingual ballot for a Dodge City school district bond issue.

The mail-in ballot, which is due back in the Ford County Clerk’s office June 25, explains that the bond amount isn’t to exceed $85.6 million, The Hutchinson News (https://bit.ly/1QVrq1F )reports. The English wording is fine, but in the Spanish translation, the amount is listed as “$85,600,00.”

Ford County is one of four in the state that must provide bilingual ballots.

“The typo in and of itself does not invalidate an election,” said Bryan Caskey, state director of elections in Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s office.

Caskey did not know of a mechanism granting the Secretary of State or any other governmental entity the authority to declare an election invalid while voting is taking place. After election results are certified, the election could be officially contested, he said.

Caskey said Ford County Clerk Sharon Seibel said the ballot was correct when it was sent to the printer. The error occurred at the printer’s, and it wasn’t caught in proofreading, Caskey was told.

Seibel talked to the Ford County attorney’s office and to school district representatives, Caskey said. He said both the school district and the county clerk’s office intend to do “public outreach” so the public knows the correct amount is $85.6 million.

Superintendent Alan Cunningham noted that the district is hurrying to get the election for school building improvements finished before July 1, when the new state fiscal year starts. Under current state law, the state will pay 58 percent of the principal and interest for the $85.6 million bond issue. After July 1, that percentage would drop to about 42 percent, Cunningham said.

Voter Phyllis Kirmer said her eyes gravitated to the numbers on the ballot that came in her mail last week.

“I think it’s influencing people,” she said of the discrepancy. “I think it needs to be an accurate figure in both paragraphs,” she said.

___

Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com

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