Nevada rejected a higher number of mail-in ballots in the 2022 election than the final vote margin that decided a close Senate race last year, according to an analysis obtained by The Daily Signal.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation, a conservative election watchdog group, found that 8,036 ballots were rejected. Democratic incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto defeated Republican challenger Adam Laxalt by 7,928 votes. So, 108 more votes were rejected than the final tally that separated the two candidates.
The analysis also found that 95,556 ballots—almost 5% of those listed on the state’s active voter lists—were sent to undeliverable addresses. Meanwhile, an additional 1.2 million ballots were never mailed back to election officials, according to the analysis of data from the office of Nevada Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar, who was first elected in November.
“A total of 8,036 rejected ballots out of nearly 513,000 returned may not seem significant, but in this context, it is a reasonable question as to what can be done to reduce the failure rates,” the legal foundation’s report says. “The Silver State relies on signature verification when processing mail ballots. This means human eyes compare marks on file against return envelopes to determine which get rejected.”
The report continues: “In 2022, a Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist reported on how he successfully tricked signature reviewers into accepting six ballots with his signature affixed. In the 2020 election, the columnist got eight ballots accepted.”
The findings do not prove—nor does the report claim—the election results would have turned out differently or that the incumbent’s margin of victory would have changed if fewer ballots were rejected, if fewer were sent to bad addresses, or if more ballots were returned. It’s impossible to know which candidate would have benefited if the 8,036 votes had been counted.
“There is totally no way to know if this affected the outcome,” J. Christian Adams, president of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told The Daily Signal. “But we shouldn’t even have to ask the question.”
Of the rejected ballots, the report says 2,133 were from registered Democrats; 2,307 were from Republicans; and the most—3,596—were from “other.”
Nevada law requires county election officials to automatically mail ballots to all “active” registrants on the voter rolls.
“Mail-in ballots disenfranchise people. They get lost. They get rejected,” Adams said. “Mail-in ballots are a problem to begin with. Automatic mail ballots are a disaster, and these Nevada numbers prove it.”
The legal foundation also argues that mailing ballots to every active registered voter wasted taxpayer dollars, as about $2 million was spent on ballots sent to bad addresses or that were never returned.
“It is still fair to assume that the bulk of these were ignored or ultimately thrown out by the intended recipients,” the report says of the 1.2 million unreturned ballots. “Still, the information gap naturally occurring in mass-mail elections remains: The public cannot know how many ballots were disregarded, delivered to wrong mailboxes, or even withheld from the proper recipient by someone at the same address.”
The Nevada secretary of state’s office did not respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal for this article.
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