5 mistakes that can disqualify your November mail ballot and how to avoid them

More states and counties than ever are allowing Americans to vote from home with a paper ballot mailed to their houses this fall.But voting by mail can be more prone to human error than voting in person, leading to mail ballots being rejected at higher rates than in-person votes.Here are the five biggest mistakes to avoid when filling out your mail ballot this fall, according to election experts.

Published in Business Insider Sep 30, 2020
Written by Grace Panetta

Here are five common mistakes that could get your mail-in ballot challenged, disqualified, or not counted at all.

  1. Improperly filling out your ballot
  2. Forgetting to sign your envelope
  3. Using a different signature from what your state has on file
  4. Not including required additional documentation (such as a copy of your photo ID, a witness signature or notarization)
  5. Sending your ballot back too late

Kathleen Unger, a voter-protection attorney and the founder and board chairwoman of the nonprofit VoteRiders, told Insider that signature-matching problems could particularly affect younger and first-time voters.

“I used to think that this issue applied especially to older voters and to some folks with disabilities,” she said. “But I then had this aha discovery after the 2018 election and saw that in the Parkland area of Florida, there were an excessive number of ballots rejected among young people because of signature issues.”

In Georgia, too, young voters, first-time voters, and Black voters were far more likely than others to have their ballots rejected for mismatched signatures or for being incorrectly completed in 2018, one study found.

“Young people use one signature when they register to vote, and then they go off to college, become very creative, and their signature changes,” Unger said. “I’m not ready to fall on my sword over this, but I think it’s possible that signature matching could be the hanging chad of 2020.”

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