By Terry Maher
Champaign-Urbana Chapter of Bend the Arc Jewish Action
It’s not just potential problems with the Post Office that might affect the success of Vote by Mail. According to an investigation by The Guardian newspaper, voters have found out after the fact that valid mail-in ballots were rejected because of a supposed discrepancy in the voter’s signature. As The Guardian put it, it’s “a decision that can be left to the whims of election officials with little guidance.”
Then there are the ballots that are requested but never received, not to mention the ballots that are submitted by mail in plenty of time but supposedly arrive after the election. A further wrinkle: some ballots arrive without postmarks because of the way the post office treats different kinds of mail, leading some election officials thinking they can’t legally count them.
States across the country rejected thousands of main-in ballots for these and other reasons during recent elections, but The Guardian has found evidence that first-time, young, and minority voters may be more likely to have their ballots rejected than other voters. In Florida’s 2018 election, first-time voters accounted for 5% of all vote by mail ballots cast in the state, but represented 12.7% of the ballots that went uncounted. In the state’s March primary, minority voters were twice as likely to have their ballots rejected than their white counterparts, according to the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project. The result? Behind-the-scenes voter suppression.
One important solution: push for ballots to be accepted if they are postmarked by the date of the election. Democrats have filed a slew of lawsuits demanding this. After all, if it’s good enough for the IRS, it should certainly be good enough for an election.
You can read The Guardian’s entire report at https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/08/mail-in-ballots-rejected-small-errors