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Hundreds of thousands of ballots for next week's presidential primary had to be reprinted because of an error, Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin said, but it should not affect the election.

New ballots were shipped Tuesday to about 50 communities that use older models of the AccuVote ballot machines, Galvin said. The original ballots were printed digitally, which makes them susceptible to moisture or smudging, Galvin said.

If the ballots had smudged, the older counting machines might not have read the ballots properly and hand-counting would have been necessary.

"It was out of an abundance of caution" that the ballots were reprinted with offset printing, a technique less likely to result in problems, Galvin said.

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"The significance of this would mean nothing to the voters," he said. "It's only going to be for the convenience of the administrators of the election."

The printer will assume the additional costs, not the state, Galvin said.

"We insisted that the printer comply with the contract and reprint some of the ballots to those communities," he said. "The printer has fixed it."

The state discovered the problem about a week ago when it ran tests to make sure ballots were counted correctly.

If absentee votes were cast with the old ballots and cannot be read by the AccuVote machines, they will be counted by hand, Galvin said.


J.D. Capelouto can be reached at jd.capelouto@globe.com.