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Don’t Get Your Mail-In Ballot Rejected

According to national news sources, more than 550,000 mail ballots were rejected during primaries in 23 states this year. How can you ensure your November 3 General Election mail ballot doesn’t meet the same fate? 

The most common reasons for a mail ballot to be rejected are a missing signature, an unverified signature or late arrival, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. 

Election officials and experts say the best way to make sure your ballot is counted is to make sure it’s signed.

In an August 4 CBS News interview, Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida who specializes in U.S. elections and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said “I’ve jokingly said that we need Stevie Wonder to do a public service announcement where, you know, ‘Signed, sealed, delivered.’ If people followed that very basic message, tens of thousands of votes would be accepted.”

In California, according to CA Elect Code § 3019, “Voters of ballots with mismatching signatures are notified a minimum of eight days prior to certification of the election,” and given instructions on the correction process. California also accepts late-arriving mailed ballots postmarked by election day up to 17 days post-election.

However, according to a study by the California Civic Engagement Project at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, the state has one of the highest mail ballot rejection rates in the country. 

Also, don’t wait to return your ballot—do so as soon as you can in a ballot drop box. Experts warn that if you drop it in the mail, you’re at the mercy of the post office. 

When voting by mail in the 2020 election, make sure your vote counts by avoiding these common mistakes, according to “The Election Administration and Voting Survey, 2016 Comprehensive Report” (some mistakes apply to all states):

1.     Nonmatching signature (27.5%)

  • Ballot not received on time/missed deadline (23.1%)
  • No voter signature (20%)
  • “Other” reason given (14.8%)
  • Uncategorized (5.7%)
  • No witness signature (3%; does not apply to California)
  • Problem with return materials e.g., ballot missing from the envelope (1.9%)
  • Voter deceased (1.5%)
  • Voter voted in person (1.3%)
  • First-time voter without proper identification (1.1%)

For more information on where and how to vote in California, click here

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