Mail-in ballots from Black NC voters rejected 4 times rate of white voters

'We’re seeing already a lack of familiarity with the process.'

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For Black voters in North Carolina, the rate of mail-in ballot rejections is 4 times higher than that of white voters. 

Early voting is underway in the state, and many Black residents are seeing their mail-in ballots returned for inconsistencies, such as mismatched signatures or missing witness signature. 

Many voters doubt that the ballot review lacks information about race, as state election officials insist.

FiveThirtyEight reporter Kaleigh Rogers notes that “the vast majority of these ballots were rejected because voters made a mistake or failed to fill out the witness information.” These ballots can still be counted, as Rogers writes “North Carolina allows for a process called ‘vote curing,’ where voters are notified that there’s a mistake and given a chance to fix their ballot.”

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According to the article, “Black voters have mailed in 13,747 ballots, with 642 rejected, or 4.7 percent. White voters have cast 60,954 mail-in ballots, with 681 — or 1.1 percent — rejected,” Rogers writes.

It’s not uncommon for Black and Hispanic voters to frequently have their ballots rejected. Part of the reason is reportedly due to many being first-time voters or not familiar with the requirements.

“We’re seeing already a lack of familiarity with the process, whether it’s signing the ballot or having the witness information completed,” said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College in North Carolina. “There tends to be a greater number from voters who were previously in-person voters. If you look at the numbers [from Sept. 14], the ballots denied due to incomplete witness information, 55 percent of those voters had voted in person in 2016.”

Read More: Rejected absentee ballots higher for minority voters, study finds

The racial gap in rejected ballots is not unique to North Carolina.

An earlier article on theGRIO stated that research conducted by 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.

“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.

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