Almost 8 million Californians now cast their ballots by mail instead going to the polls. A new study of three California counties found that only 0.8 percent of mailed ballots, about 30,000, are not tallied. That might seem insignificant, unless it’s your ballot. There are three main reasons vote-by-mail ballots go uncounted:
• The ballot was mailed too late. Ballots need to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day, not postmarked (61 percent of uncounted ballots).
• There was no signature (20 percent).
• The signature provided did not adequately compare with the one on file (18 percent).
The California Voter Foundation studied the vote-by-mail process for one year in Santa Cruz, Sacramento and Orange counties. The foundation estimates that about 66,000 vote-by-mail ballots went uncounted statewide in 2012.
One major challenge is that voters who incorrectly mail their ballots are never notified. “Voters could be making the same mistakes repeatedly and never know that they’re doing something wrong,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation. “We want the state to change the law to require counties to tell voters when their ballots go uncounted and why.”
Currently, voters can call their county’s election office, or go online, to see if their ballot was counted. Alexander imagines a world where voting by mail could be as easy as sending in a Netflix DVD.
“In the middle of finishing this study I returned a DVD to Netflix, and in the course of 12 hours it went from my mailbox at home on my porch to a Netflix facility, and I received an email saying it had been received. And I just really envy that,” Alexander said.