Fewer Ballots Rejected Than Expected Despite Worries Over First-Time Mail Voters

The percentage of rejected ballots has been lower than in the past despite concerns that an influx of first-time mail voters would inevitably make mistakes that cause their ballots to be thrown out, The New York Times reports.

Mail ballot have historically been rejected at around a 1% rate in recent elections but many key areas have seen far lower rates.

In Fulton County, Georgia, home of Atlanta, just 278 of 60,000 ballots have been rejected so far. Only 2,080 of 325,000 were flagged in Hennepin County, Minnesota, home of Minneapolis. Just 1,300 of 474,000 ballots were rejected in Kentucky compared to more than 15,000 during its June primary.

Many of those voters were notified of issues with their ballots, meaning they can still correct any errors before the deadline.

More ballots may be rejected:

Delays at the US Postal Service also mean that some mail ballots will be rejected for arriving too late.

“In at least a few states, including Florida and North Carolina, absentee ballots cast by people of color and young people are being rejected at rates far higher than the average,” The Times reported. “And even a low rejection rate can have enormous import, given the torrent of absentee votes cast this year.”

But the trends have been far better than past elections, when 319,000 ballots were rejected in the 2016 general election and 550,000 were rejected in the primaries.

Education works:

Experts believe the focus on making sure ballots are counted and educating voters on proper procedures have paid off.

“Historically, you’ve seen about 1 percent of ballots get bounced for one reason or another, mostly because of lateness,” Nate Persily, a Stanford University professor, told The Times. “But people are more attuned to the deadline this year, and voters are more aware of the criteria for casting absentee ballots. You’re going to have 80 million absentee ballots cast, and hundreds of thousands may have problems. But 99 percent or more of them will count.”

“Jurisdictions are now very sensitive to the reasons for disqualifying absentee ballots,” he added. “When they were processing very few of them, those reasons might not have appeared significant. But now that cavalier enforcement of the rules led to tens of thousands of ballots being disqualified, they’re more likely to provide strict and consistent application of those guidelines.”


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