According to a recent analysis by the Associated Press, increased voting by mail (VBM) could lead to an unprecedented number of rejected ballots in key battleground states this November. Millions of voters are expected to vote by mail for the first time this election due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AP explains:
The sudden leap is worrisome: 22 states are going from absentee ballots comprising less than 10% of all ballots four years ago to perhaps half or more this November. Pennsylvania is among them: Nearly 51% of all votes cast during its June primary were mail-in.
If voter turnout is the same as 2016 and the ballot rejection rate equals the 1.4% from this year’s primary, nearly 43,000 voters in Pennsylvania could be disenfranchised this fall, according to AP’s analysis. That’s almost the same number of votes by which Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the state four years ago, when some 2,100 ballots were rejected.
The report continued:
For its analysis, the AP also collected absentee ballot data from Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Based on the percentage of those ballots cast in each state’s primary this year, between 185,000 and 292,000 voters in the seven states examined could be disenfranchised if November’s turnout matches that of four years ago and the rejection rate remains flat. That compares to nearly 87,000 ballots rejected in those states in 2016.
The ballot rejections could be pivotal in close races. In 2016, Trump won Wisconsin by roughly 23,000 votes.
Oddly enough, Democrats continue to push the expansion of VBM despite the fact that disenfranchisement rates are greater for demographics that tend to vote for Democratic candidates:
New, young, Black and Hispanic voters — who tend to favor Democratic candidates — are disproportionately affected, according to research by University of Florida political scientist Daniel Smith. All have had absentee ballots rejected at higher rates than white and more experienced mail-in voters.
Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis called out Democratic lawmakers on this issue at the Committee's "Voting Safely In A Pandemic" hearing last week:
[D]uring 2020 primaries, we saw the closure of polling places across the country force people to wait hours in line to vote. Washington, DC closed more than 120 polling places. In Atlanta, voters waited upwards of five hours to vote because of consolidated polling locations. Milwaukee went from 180 to five polling places. In Philadelphia, 77% of polling locations were closed. In Houston, voters reported waiting close to six hours to vote. All of these areas are run by Democrats.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 fought against discrimination to ensure every American could cast their vote. I’m afraid the vote-by-mail policies being pushed by Democrats are unintentionally taking us backward.
I’ve sent oversight letters to localities where we saw these issues during their recent primaries because I’m concerned unless changes are made, voters will be disenfranchised again this fall. Again, most of these are Democrat-controlled areas. I’m also concerned about fraud when a live ballot is mailed to every registered voter in states where their voter rolls are not up to date. I want integrity in our election process not because I want to suppress votes, but because I want every vote to count and I want the American people to have confidence in our election process.
To exacerbate the baseline issues with voting by-mail, the U.S. Postal Service has warned some states that their election laws do not have enough time built in for voters to return their mail ballots on time. California is a prime example of this, where 102,000 ballots were rejected in the state's most recent primary.
CA Secretary of State says voters won't have to choose between their health and voting yet 102,000 ballots were rejected during their most recent primary and they still have ballot deadlines incompatible w/ USPS guidelines. pic.twitter.com/9Q9CjGOfTi— House Admin. Committee GOP (@HouseAdmnGOP) September 8, 2020
The AP's analysis illustrated what we already know to be true — voting in person is the best way to guarantee your vote is counted this election.
Note: If you are unable to vote in person, there are some precautions you can take to make sure that your vote is counted:
First, request your ballot early and return it promptly. The USPS says it requires a minimum of 15 days to transmit and return a ballot, and voters would be wise to allow even more time to ensure their ballots are returned by the deadline in their states.
Second, follow all ballot instructions carefully. Is there an inner envelope your ballot must be sealed within before placing in an outer envelope for mailing? Do you need to sign the inner and/or outer envelope? Does your signature need to be witnessed or notarized? Do you need to provide some other form of identification?
Third, check if your state or county has a system that allows you to track your ballots throughout the process – as it is received, processed, and counted. Check if your state or county has a means to “cure” your ballot if it is rejected and what the deadline is for doing so.