In key swing states this year, mail-in ballot rejections plummeted from 2016 rates

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Rates are below historical average and significantly less than most recent presidential election.

In Georgia, for instance — a state in which Democrat Joe Biden has eked out a surprise lead of fewer than 20,000 votes over Donald Trump — the rejection rate in 2016 was a whopping 6.4%, according to U.S. data. This year, the rate of rejection in that state stands at 0.2%,

Mail-in ballot rejection rates in multiple battleground states have this year been significantly lower than both the historical average rejection rate as well as the rate seen in the most recent presidential election. 

Mail-in ballots normally have a much higher rejection rate than in-person voting, largely due to the inevitable errors — forgotten signatures, misplaced addresses, improperly marked ballots — that arise when large numbers of people attempt to vote relatively unsupervised. 

Historically, mail-in ballots are rejected at around the rate of 1%. For first-time absentee voters, the rate can go as high as 3%, the higher number reflecting the unfamiliarity first-time voters have with the mail-in process.

Many experts and commentators predicted potentially huge numbers of rejected ballots ahead of the 2020 election, citing the much-higher-than-average numbers of mail-in voters this year, including the countless first-time mail-in voters. Concerns arose in the weeks before the election that rejected ballots could play a decisive role in the outcome of the election, particularly as they were projected to be slanted heavily in favor of Democratic challenger Joe Biden. 

In battleground states, rejection rates tumbled from 2016

Yet ballot rejections have thus far been lower across the United States this year than expected, with battleground states posting strikingly lower numbers relative to both the historical average and more recent elections. 

In Georgia, for instance — a state in which Democrat Joe Biden has eked out a surprise lead of fewer than 20,000 votes over Donald Trump — the rejection rate in 2016 was a whopping 6.4%, according to U.S. data. 

This year, the rate of rejection in that state stands at 0.2%, more than thirty times lower than the last election, according to the U.S. Elections Project, an election data site run by University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald that draws its figures from state reports.

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