A new report from the Public Interest Legal Foundation examining the results of California’s first year of mass-mail balloting reveals some interesting and sobering statistics regarding the 2022 general election, and PILF President J. Christian Adams says, “California’s vote-by-mail experiment should serve as a warning to state legislators elsewhere.”
RedState reported in November that more over 2 million mail-in votes were received by county election offices between November 12 and 15, the latest day authorities could accept ballots postmarked before Election Day (November 8). With a total of 11,146,610 votes cast in the general election, 2 million is a considerable quantity. Incredibly, 57,000 more votes arrived at county election offices after November 15 but were not counted, and 10,891,525 postal ballots remain missing. What does this entail? PILF’s report states:
It is fair to assume that the bulk of these were ignored or ultimately thrown out by the intended recipients. But, under mass mail elections, we can only assume what happened. Mail voting practices have an insurmountable information gap. 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.
“Unaccounted for” would also include ballots that were completed by the voter and deposited in a mailbox or ballot box, but never received by election authorities. This is what occurred to the son of Assembly candidate Lori Mills, who was home on a 10-day leave from the Marine Corps when he cast his ballot and placed it in the family’s mailbox. Mills tells RedState:
My son was excited to fill out his ballot and vote for his mom. On October 18 he put his completed ballot in the mailbox, and by Election Day it still wasn’t received. I spoke to Ventura County Clerk-Recorder Mark Lunn face-to-face about it, and he advised me to contact the post office. So I went to the post office and was told, “All of our ballots are gone.” That’s it. Basically, “Oops, so sorry.”
While voters may trace their ballot online to confirm that it has been received and can vote in person on Election Day if they aren’t certain that their ballot has been received, this option wasn’t accessible to Mills’ son, who had returned to the base by Election Day. What transpired with this Marine’s ballot is a perfect example of why many people do not trust the USPS with their ballots, as well as an illustration of the potential for widespread disenfranchisement inherent to a mass-mail ballot election.
Moreover, given that persons who sent in their ballots on Election Day did so from a place reasonably close to their homes, how could it take the USPS more than seven days to get their ballots to the county election office?
PILF also alleged that election authorities rejected over 120,000 mail-in votes in the general election of 2022. As stated previously, 57,000 applications were rejected since they were received past the deadline. In the end, about 48,000 ballots were rejected owing to signature mismatch; however, voters were given the option to rectify the problem if their ballot was likely to be rejected for this reason. Nearly 12,000 ballots were rejected due to the lack of a signature on the envelope, and 813 individuals were discovered to have voted twice.
While examining the overall number of ballots mailed and cast, another figure popped out. In a report detailing the Challenged/Rejected Vote by Mail vote results by code, the California Secretary of State indicates that 22,184,707 ballots were mailed for the general election of 2022. However, both the official Statement of Vote and the 15-day report of registration (which determines the total number of registered voters 15 days prior to the election) indicate that as of October 24, 2022, there were 21,940,274 registered voters. It seems that 244,000 voters were removed from the lists between the time votes were distributed and October 24. Ballots were mailed around two weeks prior to that date. Los Angeles (77 thousand), San Bernardino (22 thousand), Orange (20,000), Alameda (10,000), San Francisco (9,000), Contra Costa, Riverside, Sacramento, and San Diego (each 8,000), Fresno, and Ventura had the largest variances (5,000 each).
It will be an uphill struggle, but studies such as these are useful in the fight to eliminate mass-mail ballot elections.