More than 100,000 mail-in ballots were rejected by California election officials during the March presidential primary, according to data obtained by The Associated Press that highlights a glaring gap in the state’s effort to ensure every vote is counted.
With the coronavirus pandemic raging, California is part of a growing number of states increasing mail-in balloting to avoid crowds at polling places. President Donald Trump is among those questioning the integrity of vote-by-mail elections while supporters say they are just as reliable as polling places and offer greater flexibility for voters.
But while polling places include workers who can assist people who have questions about filling out ballots, a voter doesn’t have support at home and so problems can arise.
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The most common problem, by far, in California was missing the deadline for the ballot to be mailed and arrive. To count in the election, ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received within three days afterward. Statewide, 70,330 ballots missed those marks.
Another 27,525 either didn’t have a signature, or the signature didn’t match the one on record for the voter.
Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation that seeks to improve elections, called the uncounted figure discouraging.
“The only thing worse than people not voting is people attempting to vote and having their ballot uncounted,” she said. The tally of nullified votes “can make a difference in a close contest.”
The data didn’t break down the uncounted ballots by party registration. While the overall number was large in March, if it’s the same in November it’s unlikely to affect the presidential race — Trump lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 by 4.3 million votes. (Full Story)