The District of Columbia's Board of Elections and Ethics took a pair of scissors yesterday to solve the problem of errors on ballots already printed for next Tuesday's general election.

The board decided to instruct the printer of the 200,000 ballots to cut off and discard the bottoms of the ballots where the errors appear.

The errrors - caused by the City Council and not the elections board - were discovered in the wording of two ballot questions. Voters are being asked whether they want to give themselves the right to initiate legislation by referendum and to unseat elected officials by recall.

Voters will be given a newly printed and correct ballot to respond to those questions.

As a result of yesterday's action, city voters will be given three separate ballots at the Tuesday election instead of the two that had been planned.

Shari B. Kharasen, chairperson of the elections board, said the solution would permit the counting of the two already printed ballots by electronic scanning devices. The new, third ballot must be counted by the more time-consuming method of hand tabulation.

The original ballots contain the names of candidates for the school board and for the city's 36 advisory neighborhood commissions.

Mary Rodgers, the board's election administrator, said results of the hand - tabulated referendum may not be known until Wednesday.