New York had the poorest showing in the country when it came to counting overseas and military ballots last November, a new report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission found. The national average for ballots counted was 93.2 percent. But in New York, 73.9 percent of the 22,303 ballots cast were counted.
State Board of Elections spokesman John Conklin said New York’s numbers may have been skewed because boards of election counted every ballot, including those that were returned as undeliverable, toward the total number returned. It appears other states may not have included undeliverable ballots in their overall total, he explained. Returned ballots can be rejected for a variety of reasons, such as they are mailed too late or there is a problem with the voter’s signature.
Federal law used to require that absentee-ballot applications from overseas citizens and soldiers were valid for two years, and ballots were sent out automatically the second year. The federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, or MOVE, which took effect with the 2010 federal elections, reduces that to one year, he said.
County boards of election purged their lists after last year’s election so there will likely be fewer ballots that are sent and returned as undeliverable.
“I think going forward our numbers are going to be better,” he said.
New York is embroiled in litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice about moving up its primary date to give boards of election enough time to send out military and overseas ballots. The agency sued the state a year ago for not complying with MOVE, which requires that absentee ballots be sent out at least 45 days before an election. At least 33 counties sent out the ballots after the Oct. 1 deadline in 2010.
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