Significant numbers of mail ballots were rejected during California’s first year into its mass-mail balloting. During the 2022 primaryi and general elections 226,250 mail ballots were rejected by election officials. These rejections represent potential disenfranchisement of voters because of the switch to mail balloting.
California’s New Mass-Mail Law
On September 27, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 37 to show other states committed to “undemocratic votersuppression laws” how California “is increasing voter access.”ii The law is straightforward: all active registered voters in the state will, from now on, be automatically mailed ballots for upcoming elections. Californians can still vote in person if they wish. State executives and lawmakers credited their faith in AB 37 after experimenting with the concept during the pandemic.
9 Ways to Get Your Mail Ballot Rejected in California
California cites nine primary reasons for why mail ballots are rejected. Some reasons are logical, such as determining the registrant already cast a ballot (once in person and once by mail, which happened 813 times in November 2022). The most common reason, however, is endemic to mail voting – the ballot arrived late (48% of all rejects).iii
California’s nine categories for removing a ballot are (% of rejects in November 2022):
- Not received on time (47.8%)
- Signature mismatch (39.8%)
- No signature (9.8%)
- Already voted (0.6%)
- No ID provided (0.5%)
- Ballot missing (0.5%)
- Wrong address on envelope (0.5%)
- Multiple ballots in single envelope (0.1%)
- Other issues (0.06%)