“Swing State Hurdle: Returning Absentee Ballots to Election Day Polls”

Steven Rosenfeld:

Across the country, the past week has seen the Democratic Party and voting rights groups win legal victories to make it easier to vote in the presidential election. But no victory addresses what some experienced election officials say may be a foreseeable trend that could delay polling place voting on Election Day in many swing states.

What may trigger voter confusion and traffic jams are rules that do not allow voters to drop off an absentee ballot at a poll on Nov. 3. In some states, those voters can wait in line and after some completing some paperwork, they will get to vote with a regular or provisional ballot. Or those voters can go to a government election office to return their absentee ballot, or find a drop box if that option is offered.

“It looks like a little tiny thing, but it is a major thing,” said Jan BenDor, a former election official and Michigan Election Reform Alliance statewide coordinator, speaking of voters not being able to simply return an absentee ballot at any Election Day precinct. “One reason we worked so hard to get these drop boxes is so that people don’t get caught in these traps.”

In MichiganPennsylvaniaOhioFloridaGeorgiaNorth Carolina and Wisconsin, there are varying scenarios awaiting voters who might think that they can quickly return an absentee ballot on Election Day. Those voters face hurdles that they may not anticipate. This snafu was previewed in some 2020 primary elections.


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