California’s secretary of state just issued data that show the 2022 election was a mess.
Why? Because of voting by mail.
Indeed, this was California’s first election that relied on the United States Postal Service to get the mission accomplished. In September 2021, Sacramento passed new legislation that said everyone registered to vote—dead or alive—is automatically sent a ballot in the mail, every election.
That might sound good, but the new data prove that mass voting by mail should have remained a pandemic experiment.
An analysis by the Public Interest Legal Foundation shows over 226,000 mail ballots were rejected by California election officials. That’s a quarter million citizens who thought their ballot would count, but it didn’t.
The No. 1 reason for rejection was that the ballot arrived too late. That’s what happens when you put the Postal Service in charge. It has a 94% success rate for timely delivery of political mail.
Put another way, the Postal Service aspires to only 6% failure, or 6% of voters disenfranchised.
Other reasons the data show rejection of ballots by California election officials include that a voter forgot to sign the ballot. This is a simple error that is easily caught and fixed in person at a polling place.
Automatic vote-by-mail elections also need near-perfect voter rolls. Otherwise, deceased registrants are mailed ballots and people registered more than once are mailed multiple ballots.
This massive failure of California’s automatic vote-by-mail election process shouldn’t be a surprise. It failed everywhere it was tried in 2020. According to federal data, over 560,000 mail ballots were rejected in 2020. Over half a million citizens didn’t get to have their voice heard because of voting by mail.
Unfortunately, many states, like California, have passed laws institutionalizing these pandemic mail-voting policies. Along with California, seven other states enacted the automatic mailing of ballots to every registered voter.
These states essentially have put the Postal Service in charge of their elections. The service excels at one thing—delivering me my neighbor’s mail. We shouldn’t be trusting it with electing our leaders.
States need to add safeguards to their vote-by-mail systems.
Lawmakers should change their laws to require mail ballots be accompanied by a driver’s license, voter registration number, or Social Security number. Signature matching is an inefficient and inconsistent system.
Finally, states must not allow voting by mail to cause delay in election results. Some states allow the counting of mail ballots that arrive up to 14 days after Election Day.
It’s supposed to be Election Day, though, not Election Week. All 50 states should require all ballots to arrive by Election Day.
Top election officials and lawmakers need to step up and enact these commonsense reforms before the 2024 elections.
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