California election officials have reportedly rejected more than 100,000 mail-in ballots from the March primary election, elevating concerns that voting by mail threatens the electoral process.
The majority of the disqualified ballots, just over 70,000, were not mailed by the deadline which requires the ballots reach the election officials no more than three days after the election. Another 27,525 ballots were rejected for either not having a signature or having a signature that did not match the one on file for that registered voter.
The rejected ballots in California are just the latest in a string of disturbing mail-in ballot errors and attempted fraud. In a municipal New Jersey election in June, a sitting city council member and a councilman-elect, along with two others, were charged with multiple counts of voter fraud. The alleged malfeasance was brought to the attention of authorities when a mail carrier noticed unusual bundling of mailed ballots in the mailboxes.
Ballots bearing the names of residents who said they did not vote and never saw their own ballot were also delivered and counted in the New Jersey election. Many of the races were decided by fewer than 1,000 votes, prompting some to call the entire election invalid because of the fraud.
A mailman in West Virginia was charged with voter fraud this month after admitting that he changed mail-in ballot requests' party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. He claimed his effort to manipulate the ballots was “just a joke.” In Georgia, a cat who died more than 12 years ago received a voter registration form. The Georgia Secretary of State’s office blamed out-of-state activist groups for sending erroneous ballots to potential voters. The cat’s owner, Carol Tims, recognized the troubling incident as a warning about mail-in fraud.
“There's a huge push but if they're trying to register cats, I'm not sure who else they're trying to register,” said Tims.
As the threat of COVID-19 continues to loom in many states, including California, Democrats have insisted that voting by mail is the only way to keep people safe. California Governor Gavin Newsom has said repeatedly that mail-in elections would be secure.
In June, Newsom signed a law that required California election officials to mail ballots to all 21 million registered voters in the state, whether they were requested or not. Critics of voting by mail, including President Trump, have asserted that there is no way to ensure the validity of ballots coming through the mail system.
While Democratic state leaders like Newsom in California and Gov. Phil Murphy in New Jersey have stood firm in their defense of mail-in voting, others have raised concerns that would make voting much more difficult. Without the assistance of election officials at a polling place, some voters would have trouble completing and signing their ballot, said president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation Kim Alexander.
“The only thing worse than people not voting is people attempting to vote and having their ballot uncounted,” Alexander said. She also noted that several California races on the primary ballot were close, and many upcoming races in the November general election could be decided by fewer than 1,000 votes.