Marin County rejected 1.7% of primary ballots, state says

By Adrian Rodriguez ,
Marin Independent Journal,
October 28, 2022


Marin County elections officials disqualified 1,405 mail ballots in the June primary election, according to data recently released by the California Secretary of State’s office.

That accounts for 1.7% of the 82,502 ballots submitted. Most of the rejected ballots — 1,212 — arrived late. By comparison, California disqualified 1.6% of its vote-by-mail ballots, or 105,818. Of those, 70,000 were late.

“If you can get your ballot in the mail early, that’s great, but using the official drop box or voter center is probably your best bet,” said Lynda Roberts, the Marin County registrar of voters. “Waiting until the last minute can create difficulty. Just don’t wait until the last minute.”

The disqualifications serve as a warning to Marin voters as the Nov. 8 general election quickly approaches, said Mimi Willard, president of the Coalition of Sustainable Taxpayers, a taxpayer watchdog group known as COST. Thousands of Marin residents are voting on everything from the governor’s race to municipal council contests and divisive ballot measures

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Tim Dupuis, the county’s elections chief, did not return multiple requests to comment on the extremely low number of late ballots. Jason Bezis, an attorney who represents the Alameda County Taxpayers Association, called the number “completely unbelievable.”

Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation, said the figure could be a typo.

“It’s entirely possible that somebody left a digit out or two,” Alexander said. “These numbers are as reliable as the counties reporting the data.”

By comparison, Contra Costa County, which has a smaller population, rejected 3,388 ballots on the grounds that they arrived late, and other large Bay Area counties rejected thousands of ballots for the same reason.

Across the state in 2020, clerks rejected 0.6% of the mail-in vote, more than 86,000 ballots, and the 2021 governor recall had a 1.1% rejection rate.

The rejections have received a heightened sense of scrutiny from both Democrats and Republicans as election deniers spurred by President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 presidential election continue to sow division over the integrity of the voting process.

Voting-rights advocates have for years sounded the alarm over mail-in ballot rejections, which studies have shown disproportionately impact young and first-time voters along with voters of color. To tamp down on the rate of rejected ballots in California, lawmakers enacted systemized review protocols across the state and forced counties to contact voters with mismatched signatures and provide them the opportunity to submit a correct signature.

“This is a form of disenfranchisement, and these challenges persist,” Alexander said. “We have a relatively low rejection rate, but it is stubborn.”

Of the rejected Marin ballots in the June primary, 75 ballots had no signature and 85 ballots had mismatched signatures. Aside from late arrivals, Roberts said these are the other top two reasons ballots are rejected. (Full Story)