With absentee ballots flooding election offices nationwide, the officials processing them are tentatively reporting some surprising news: The share of ballots being rejected because of flawed signatures and other errors appears lower — sometimes much lower — than in the past.
Should that trend hold, it could prove significant in an election in which the bulk of absentee voters has been Democratic, and Republicans have fought furiously, in court and on the stump, to discard mail ballots as fraudulent.
In Fulton County, Ga., home to Atlanta, just 278 of the first 60,000-odd ballots processed had been held back. In Minneapolis, Hennepin County officials last week had rejected only 2,080 of 325,000 ballots — and sent replacement ballots to all of those voters. In Burlington, Iowa, the number of rejected ballots on Monday was 28 of 12,310. And of 474,000 absentee ballots received in Kentucky, barely 1,300 rejects remain uncorrected by voters, compared to more than 15,000 during the state’s presidential primary in June.
The number of rejections could fall further. In those jurisdictions and many others, voters are notified of errors on ballots and can correct their mistakes, or vote in person instead.