As more Americans vote by mail this year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s concern that thousands of eligible voters like Weisfeld could have their ballots rejected for small errors without a chance to fix them. Mail-in ballots were more likely to be rejected in the 2016 election than ones cast in person. In a typical election only a small percentage of mail-in ballots get rejected (318,728 ballots, about 1% of those returned, were uncounted in the 2016 general election), according to data compiled by the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC). That could rise starkly during the presidential election when an unprecedented number of people are expected to vote by mail….
The vast majority of ballots that go uncounted are rejected for three reasons: the ballot arrives late, there is a problem with the signature on it, or there is no signature at all, according to EAC data. Many states don’t count ballots if they arrive after election day, regardless of when they were put in the mail. But they can also reject ballots if election officials determine the signature on the ballot doesn’t match one in a voter’s file – a decision that can be left to the whims of election officials with little guidance.
Four months ahead of the election, there are already warning signs. In May, New Jersey officials rejected nearly 10% of mail-in ballots during local elections held entirely by mail. In Florida, just over 18,500 ballots were rejected during the state’s March primary. In Nevada, more than 6,700 ballots, were rejected because of signature matching issues. In Kentucky’s June primary, more than 3,800 ballots were rejected in Jefferson county, home of Louisville, because they lacked a required signature.