How to Make Sure Your Ballot Is Not Rejected
With just over a month left before the November elections, the fate of America’s political future has never been so uncertain. Some of the biggest questions revolve around mail-order voting, with Donald Trump arguing (without evidence) that the process is seriously flawed and prone to corruption, and that he may disagree with the election results as a result. Beyond the president’s efforts, strengthening mail-order voting in this pandemic requires voters to do their homework. Although in a handful of states, almost all elections are held solely by mail , many in other states will be using this method for the first time — and getting the whole country accustomed to a new way of voting — is not one of our strengths; see: hanging children .
All this together does not bode well for November 3 and the following weeks. And while, yes, a lot of this is out of your control, there is one thing you can do: make sure your mail-order ballot is not automatically thrown away due to simple mistakes or omissions. Here’s what you need to know.
To learn more about voting by mail, watch the video below:
Rejected ballots can make a difference
During the primaries earlier this year, the MIT Election Data and Science Laboratory collected data on mailing ballots in five key states and found that rejected absentee and mailed ballots ranged from just under 1% to almost 2% . While it may not sound like a lot, it could make a huge difference in the coming elections.
In fact, as Josh Douglas, professor of suffrage and voting rights at the University of Kentucky told CBS News :
“If you have a very close election, especially in a presidential state, and the probability of winning is lower than the number of rejected ballots, then people will doubt the results. And then you will find yourself in a lawsuit. “
Can we all agree that it is not ideal to question this year’s election results?
Make sure it is filled in correctly
When voting by mail, it’s helpful to keep in mind the lyrics of Stevie Wonder’s 1970 hit“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours .“ One of the most common reasons a mail-order ballot is rejected is because it is not signed properly. While some states only require the signature of a voter, others require that the ballot be signed by a witness or notary.
And in fact, before you sign the newsletter, make sure you follow the instructions and fill it out correctly. For example, if you have to fill in an oval next to a selected candidate, fill in that oval — do not put an “X” or a check mark in its place.
Once your ballot is correctly completed, signed, and sealed, it’s time to mail it in (although if you live in Brooklyn you might want to take a look at the name on the back envelope first ). Even if you are the one who waits until the last minute to do something, please do not do it with mail-in ballot papers . While most states require the ballot to be received before election day , 17 other states specify that it must be stamped by election day instead. Just in case, search for your state’s requirements on the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
Leave your newsletter personally
If you are running late or nervous about whether USPS will deliver your newsletter on time, there is another option. Nearly every state allows people to drop ballots into the local clerk’s office, and some have even installed specially designed ballot boxes. This way, you will still be able to vote in real time, but without worrying about the infection and / or spread of the coronavirus.
It was originally published in August 2020 and updated in September 2020 to reflect the very latest information, context and guidance.