Mail-in voter scheme: 84,000 New York mail-in ballots disqualified in the presidential primary

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New York City, NY- With the virus allegedly running rampant, and social distancing becoming the new norm, many people are choosing to vote by mail in this year’s elections.

This should be easy enough for those who still want a voice, but do not want to risk exposure to COVID-19. However, according to new figures released by the Board of Elections, the mail-in ballots of more than 84,000 New York City Democrats who chose to vote in the presidential primary were disqualified.

According to the New York Times, the city’s Board of Elections received 403,103 mail-in ballots for the June 23 Democratic presidential primary, but the certified results released on August 5th, revealed that only 318,995 mail-in ballots were counted.

That means 84,108 ballots were not counted or invalidated — 21 percent of the total.

Some of the main reasons for disqualification were the ballots arrived late, were not signed, they lacked a postmark, or had various other postal related defects. 

According to The Post reported, in Brooklyn alone, there were roughly 30,000 mail-in ballots were invalidated.

Although voters have been encouraged to vote by mail this year, it is evident that the postal service, and the Board of Elections were unprepared for the amount of ballots they would receive. This is also troublesome because the presidential election, which is right around the corner, will have a high mail in ballot rate as well.  

In order to assist with this problem, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to make it easier to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot. The state also took the liberty to provide pre-paid envelopes for voters to mail the ballots, which should alleviate the “lack of postage” disqualification.

Although, even with pre-paid ballots, many were disqualified due to not being postmarked.

Several candidates, who are being represented by Arthur Schwartz, filed a federal lawsuit claiming voters were disenfranchised over the Board of Elections and Postal Service’s handling of ballots.

Schwartz said:

“A 26 percent invalidation rate is astounding. It’s very troubling,” 

Manhattan Judge Analisa Torres ordered that ballots received by June 25 be counted, however, the state Board of Elections said it is appealing the ruling.

Aside from ballots arriving late, and not being postmarked, Schwartz said that tons of ballots were disqualified because the voters failed to sign the interior envelope that came with it.

Schwartz said:

“The envelope with directions for the signature was so poorly designed,” 

 Co-chair of the state Board of Elections, Doug Kellner, did not disagree.

Kellor told The Post:

“The invalidation rate is higher than I would have predicted,” 

In a  six-page proposal, Kellner urged city Board Of Elections officials to make sure there is proper staffing at polling places during the November election, to ensure lines are no longer than 30 minutes; to tally absentee ballots quicker, because the six weeks it took to certify results from the primary is unacceptable; and to prepare for processing “double or triple” the number of mail in ballots.

Kellner said:

“Add new capacity to process the applications in a timely manner now. Do not wait for a backlog from which you can never recover,” 

Kellner even implies that city election administrators should apologize to citizens for the mess.

He continued:

“To those voters who did not have an opportunity to cast their ballots in the primary election, we should apologize for not doing more,”

Finally he said:

“Elected officials and others warned that we were not deploying sufficient resources to mail out absentee ballots in a timely manner, and in hindsight, we could have done more to address the problem.”

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Here is a story Law Enforcement Today brought you last week which showed major flaws in the mail in ballot process. 

In this country, mail-in voting is supposed to be an accurate and acceptable way to vote. However, a recent experiment carried out by a local new station, had a very different result.

Although voting by mail seems as easy as mailing a letter, it might not be that simple. The timelines and protocols vary from state to state in regards to sending and receiving mail in ballots. According to CBSNews, in 2016, more than 73,000 out of 33 million mail-in ballots arrived too late to be counted. 

Give the national situation with the coronavirus, mail-in voting is expected to be the preferred form of voting this year. Given that, “CBS This Morning” created an experiment, sending out 100 mock ballots, simulating 100 voters in locations across Philadelphia. This experiment was designed to see how long one should allow themselves, to ensure their vote counts.

Tammy Patrick, a former Arizona election official told “CBS This Morning”:

“We’re gonna see somewhere between probably 80 and 100 million voters receiving their ballot that way,”

CBSNews explained their process:

For the experiment, a P.O. box was set up to represent a local election office. A few days after the initial ballots were mailed, 100 more were sent. 

The mock ballots used the same size envelope and same class of mail as real ballots, and even had mock votes folded in to approximate the weight. The biggest difference: real mail-in ballots have a logo that is meant to expedite them. “CBS This Morning” was unable to include those the trial.

When the P.O. box was checked a week after the initial ballots were mailed, most of them seemed to be missing. 

When asked about the missing ballots, a postal worker said: 

“I don’t see anything back there for you,” 

When pressed, the postal worker said:

“That’s all I have back there right now.”

After asking for a manager and explaining the situation, amazingly the ballots were found.

The postal worker said:

“They had them somewhere else,” 

In addition to mis-sorted mail, there was another problem- missing ballots. Out of the 100 votes that were mailed out, only 97 had arrived successfully to the post office. This means, that about 3% of voters did not have their votes counted, which could be a make or break percentage when it comes to voting. 

As the experiment continued, the second batch of ballots were counted four days after being mailed, and only about 21% had arrived at the post office. 

According to Postal Service recommendations:

“voters should mail their return ballots at least one week prior to the due date.”

However, nearly half of all states still allow voters to request ballots less than a week before the election.

According to Tammy Patrick, many states’ mail-in voting policies simply do not take the postal system into account, considering nearly half of all states still allow ballot requests less than a week before the election. 

Patrick explained:

“So states like Ohio, you can request your ballot on Saturday up until noon for Tuesday’s election,”

She went on to say:

“And that is the worst possible thing… you are setting up the voters with false expectations, and you’re setting them up to fail.”

Some Americans say they are hesitant to trust the U.S. Postal Service, despite pandemic concerns. 

When asked, mostly all who were interviewed said, they are worried or concerned about the efficiency of the US Mail system. 

According to CBSNews, after nearly 15,000 votes arrived late in Philadelphia’s June primary, Deeley, who helps oversee elections, said voters are right to be wary. 

She said:

“I can guarantee that I’m gonna get you your ballot, and if I get it back in time, it’s gonna be counted,” 

She continued:

“But I have no way of guaranteeing what happens in the postal service.”

The postmaster general declined “CBS This Morning’s” request for an interview, but in an emailed statement, the postal service said it was “committed to delivering election mail in a timely manner.”

You can read the US Postal Services full statement here.

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