Rejected absentee ballots higher for minority voters, study finds

Research finds that minority voters in Black and brown communities were twice as likely to have their absentee ballots rejected than White voters.

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Data collected from a collegiate study finds that Black and brown voters are more likely to have their absentee ballots rejected than their White peers.

Read More: In battlegrounds, absentee ballot rejections could triple

Research conducted by a University of Florida professor Daniel Smith found Black and Hispanic voters in the state were twice as likely to have their ballots rejected as White voters. The data, gathered from the Florida Division of Elections, also found that young voters are also likely to have rejected ballots, CNN reported Monday.

Mail-in Ballot
PROVO, UT – November 6: A employee at the Utah County Election office puts mail in ballots into a container to register the vote in the midterm elections. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Florida is not the only state where these statistics hold true. According to CNN, in North Carolina, early voting has already begun and approximately 2% of absentee ballots with the rejection rate higher for Black voters, however, at nearly 7%.

Many of the ballots are being refused due to mismatched signatures. CNN reports the verification process is different per state, however, only 19 states, are required to notify voters of a rejected ballot and provide the opportunity to resolve the issue.

“If you move, you may not even get your ballot, and we know younger voters, racial, ethnic minorities, lower-income voters tend to move more. That’s certainly been the case with the pandemic. That’s going to raise a problem with you getting your ballot in the first place,” Smith said to CNN.

Mail-In Ballots Are Processed For Washington's Primary Election
Ballot envelopes sit in a box at the King County Elections headquarters earlier this month. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Read More: Trump requests absentee ballot after attacking mail-in voting

Both the Democrats and the Republicans have taken a different stance on verifying signatures. CNN reports President Donald Trump  and Republicans are calling for strict matches while the opposing party calls for easier rules allowing people to prove their votes.

CNN reports a federal judge in Texas ruled that the state must notify voters if their ballot has been marked for rejection due to a signature issue and provide the opportunity to fix the issue. The news outlet states the Western District of Texas Judge Orlando Garcia concluded the state’s process of rejecting ballots in the state was unconstitutional.

In North Carolina, local and national Democratic parties filed a lawsuit claiming the Tar-heel state’s current process for addressing mail-in ballot errors is insufficient.

“We need to protect not just the right to vote but the right to vote safely,” said DSCC Chair Catherine Cortez Masto in an official statement regarding the lawsuit.

“The processes that state and local elections officials put in place should make it easier to count eligible ballots and ensure voters have time to correct any issues so their voices are heard. We will continue to fight any obstacle that stands in the way of voters casting their ballots.”

CNN reports in New Jersey, for the first time, all registered voters received mail-in ballots. The state passed legislation requiring election officials to notify voters within 72-hours by mail or phone if their ballot was rejected and opens a 5-day window to provide corrections.

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