1-in-5 mail-in ballots tossed out in tight Congressional primary race

Similar issues have popped up across the country as mail-in ballot access has been expanded

There’s been a massive push for the expansion of mail-in ballots this year with officials arguing it’s a safer way to vote in the midst of the COVID-19 panic.

But massively and quickly expanding a voting option typically only available to a few thousand people has overwhelmed voting systems across the country.

In NY-12, one-in-five mail-in ballots were tossed out. ONE-IN-FIVE. It’s a massive mass.

From the Queens Daily Eagle:

One-in-five mail-in ballots have been tossed out in New York’s 12th Congressional District, which includes Western Queens, Northwest Brooklyn and the East Side of Manhattan, according to Board of Elections documents reported by The Intercept.

The absentee ballots are crucial in the contest, where Maloney, who has served in Congress since 1993, led Patel by 648 votes after the machine tally following the June 23 Democratic primary. Roughly 65,000 NY-12 voters cast their ballots by mail, The New York Times reported.

Maloney received 41.7 percent of the in-person votes compared to Patel’s 40.1 percent. Two other candidates, Lauren Ashcraft and Pete Harrison, received about 18 percent of the overall vote total. In Queens, Patel received 540 more votes than Maloney.

On Thursday, the four candidates called on the BOE to count every absentee ballot that was invalidated because the U.S. Postal Service did not postmark the envelope or because the BOE received the ballots after June 30.

“Put bluntly: A missing postmark, over which voters had no control, should not disenfranchise those voters,” the candidates wrote.

“We stand together in asking Governor Cuomo to update his executive order to permit the Board of Elections to accept all absentee ballots received without a postmark,” they added.

Patel went even further, suing the Board of Elections in federal court to demand that all ballots mailed and received before June 30 be counted, even if the ballot does not have a postmark.

And that’s just one primary race in New York. The rest of the country is seeing similar problems, as NBC reports:

The flood of additional mail ballots in the primaries has also revealed another problem that could have enormous consequences for November: a sharp increase in ballot rejections. Ballots can be tossed for voter errors like not signing in all the right places, having a signature that doesn’t exactly match one’s voter registration signature, or reaching election officials too late.

In California alone, a state that allowed all eligible voters to cast a ballot by mail prior to the pandemic and is accustomed to processing millions of those ballots, more than 102,000 ballots were rejected in its March 3 primary, up from 69,000 in the state’s 2016 primary.

That number includes some mail ballots that were surrendered by voters who chose to vote in person instead, but the majority of them — some 70,000 ballots — simply arrived too late, according to datafirst reported by The Associated Press and provided to NBC News by the California secretary of state’s office. Nearly 13,000 voters forgot to sign the ballot, while more than 14,000 signatures were declared a mismatch by officials.

In Wisconsin’s April 7 primary, the rejection rate was 1.8 percent, with more than 20,000 mail ballots rejected, according to state data. That’s 12 times the number of mail ballots rejected in the 2016 presidential primary.Another 79,000 late ballots were only counted in this year’s primary after a court order demanded the state count ballots postmarked on time but delayed by the mail.

“I’m quite worried that there’s going to be many voters disenfranchised for inadvertent noncompliance with absentee ballot rules,” said Rick Hasen, a professor and an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine.

That’s because many voters have never voted by mail, and “in part because some states don’t have a lot of experience processing these ballots,” he said.

Studies also show that minority voters are more likely to have their ballots rejected than white voters.

In Florida’s March 17 primary, election officials tossed 18,500 ballots — roughly 1.3 percent of all those cast — according to a recent analysis. Ohio rejected more than 20,000 ballots — 1.2 percent of the mail ballots cast — in its April 28 primary, according to state election results.

Complete chaos. Not exactly reassuring heading into the general elections.

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Author: Kemberlee Kaye

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