An election watchdog has just revealed that significant numbers of mail-in ballots were rejected by California officials during the 2022 primary and general elections. The same findings indicate more than 10 million ballots simply disappeared, with election officials having no idea what happened to them.
The report from Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is sure to raise more questions than answers, particularly as the number of ballots not counted greatly exceeds the margin of victory in numerous statewide races.
“After accounting for polling place votes and rejected ballots in November 2022, there were more than 10 million ballots left outstanding, meaning election officials do not know what happened to them,” PILF says in the report. “It is fair to assume that the bulk of these were ignored or ultimately thrown out by the intended recipients. But, under mass mail elections, we can only assume what happened.”
Of the ballots that were received, hundreds of thousands were rejected for various reasons.
“During the 2022 primary and general elections 226,250 mail ballots were rejected by election officials,” the report notes. “These rejections represent potential disenfranchisement of voters because of the switch to mail balloting.”
In California, there are nine reasons that election workers may use to reject ballots, including:
- Arrived Late
- Signature Mismatch
- No Signature
- Voted Twice
- No ID Provided
- Ballot Missing From Envelope
- Missing/Incorrect Address on Envelope
- Multiple Ballots in Envelope
- Call County/Other
Under California law, mail ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day and arrive back to election workers no later than seven days after Election Day. In the November election, more than 57,000 ballots were received after November 15, meaning they would be automatically rejected.
Nearly half (47.8 percent) of the mail-in ballots that were rejected in 2022 were discarded because they were not received on time. The most common reason for late arrivals was the U.S. Post Office.
Moreover, 39.8 percent were rejected for signature mismatches, while 9.8 percent were rejected for having no signature.
“Mail ballots disenfranchise,” PILF President, J. Christian Adams said in a statement. “There are many reasons mail ballots fail ultimately to count. No one casting a ballot at home can correct an error before it’s too late. California’s vote by mail demonstration should serve as a warning to state legislators elsewhere.”
It still remains unclear exactly how specific races may have been impacted, but most of the California races were won by margins less than the number of ballots that were discarded.
California’s Senate, Governor, and Secretary of State races were all decided with roughly 2.3 million votes separating the two candidates. Some of the state’s House races were won by margins as low as 3,132 votes.