More than 18,000 Floridians who voted by mail in March’s presidential primary did not have their votes counted, according to an analysis done by a group of national elections experts and academics.
The numbers of uncounted mail ballots, while relatively small, could prove crucial come November in a state known for razor-thin margins and at a time when voters are migrating in greater numbers to mail ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Elections officials in Florida and elsewhere need “a massive education campaign” about how to properly navigate the mail ballot process, said Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford law professor and the co-director of the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project, which brings academics and elections administration experts together to discuss best practices to address the threat of the virus….
Persily said new voters and those who have not previously voted by mail may not understand all the instructions and rules that go with it.
“This is the election version of baptism by fire,” Persily said of the large numbers of voters expected to vote by mail for the first time come November.
Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political science professor who specializes in elections, has previously found that mail ballots are more likely to be rejected than ballots cast in person. His research has found that rejection rates varied widely by county, which he has said suggests non-uniformity in how county elections officials verify signatures and other details on mail ballots.