Record Low Mail-in Ballot Rejection Rate Suggests Voter Verification Procedures Were Not Properly Enforced
In past elections, a nationwide overall 1-2% of absentee ballots were rejected for errors, typically because a voter failed to sign their ballot’s envelope or because their signature didn’t match the one on file. If a voter didn’t fix the mistake, their ballot was deemed invalid. According to an NPR analysis in August 2020, “An extraordinarily high number of ballots — more than 550,000 — have been rejected in this year’s presidential primaries.” They went on to report that: “That’s far more than the 318,728 ballots rejected in the 2016 general election and has raised alarms about what might happen in November when tens of millions of more voters are expected to cast their ballots by mail, many for the first time…” In October 2020, USA Today projected: “More than 1 million people could lose their vote on Nov. 3. That’s the best-case scenario.”
But surprisingly, the rejection rates in critical swing states are at record lows. For example, in Pennsylvania, according to statistics on Ballotpedia, the rejection rate was 0.95% in 2016. It was 4.45% in 2018. But it dropped dramatically to just 0.28% in 2020. This drop is obviously irregular, unexpected, and absent a legitimate explanation — particularly when the 2020 presidential election saw a much higher percentage of first-time mail-in ballot voters than previous elections. As NBC reported: “Experts say it [the rejection rate] also tends to be higher in states that don’t normally have a lot of absentee ballots — a category that includes the battleground states of Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.” First-time absentee votes are naturally expected to be rejected at a higher rate.
In Georgia, in 2016, the rejection rate was 6.42%; in 2018, it was 3.10%. But in the 2020 presidential election, it dropped dramatically to only 0.60%. Another battleground state, Nevada, also saw a record low rejection rate of 0.58%, down from 1.60% in 2016 and 2.05% in 2018.
The suspiciously low mail-in ballot rejection rate suggests that verification procedures, such as signature verification, may not have been properly enforced in the 2020 presidential election. In the Georgia audit and recount, no signature matching was required, a procedural irregularity that Trump’s legal team strenuously protested.
Texas filed an election lawsuit with the U.S. Supreme Court, which was backed by 17 other states. It alleged, “four key battleground states unconstitutionally changed election laws, treated voters unequally, and triggered significant voting irregularities by relaxing ballot integrity measures.” The lawsuit cited an eyewitness account from Jesse Jacob, a decades-long City of Detroit employee, who testified that she “was instructed not to look at any of the signatures on the absentee ballots, and was instructed not to compare the signature on the absentee ballot with the signature on file.”
Many Signatures Don’t Match.
Dr. Judith Burns, a Maricopa County Tabulation Center poll watcher, told Arizona State legislators, at the public hearing, that in the signature verification room, according to her observation, most of the signatures the poll workers were comparing did not match. Many of the signatures on the envelope were simply scribbles. She also observed that the yellow banner on the computer screen at the bottom right corner showed ‘low confidence’ in signature matches the entire afternoon, but the poll workers still continued counting those ballots. She later confirmed with the VP of the operation at Tabulation Center that the ballots with poor or no signature matching were still counted.
Dr. Burns also talked about her experience in the ballot processing room, where she was the only GOP poll watcher monitoring 90 tables across the entire room. She found it very odd that all the mail-in ballots were already opened when they were brought in, in bins. When she raised questions about it later, she was told the ballots came from the mailroom. No further explanation was given to her questions. Dr. Burns has signed a sworn affidavit under penalty of perjury.
Maricopa County GOP chairwoman Linda Brickman also testified that she personally observed signatures on envelopes that were completely different from the name of the listed voter being let through by election supervisors. The election supervisors constantly instructured her to lower signature verification standards in order to “move more quickly” and process the higher amount of early and mail-in ballots received for the November election.
“Standards were lowered from approximately 15 points of similarities … reduced to a minimum of three, and then lowered to one, and ultimately none,” Brickman said, recalling that she was told to “just pass each signature verification through.”
“We were told, ‘Too many rejections have already been turned in… we need to move more quickly.’ This is not the way an election should be run. Where’s the integrity?” Brickman said.
“So the ones who signed the envelopes were not the actual voters, but these were allowed to go through with ‘Maricopa County verified’ stamped on the outside of each affidavit envelope,” she said.
Batches of envelopes bearing the same handwriting for different signatures were also observed, she said.
“There were at least 30 ballots that I saw at one time, that were signed by the same handwriting but on different voters’ names,” Brickman testified. “When I asked if the county attorney would be alerted for possible fraud, I was told ‘no,’ that supervisors would take care of it.” Mrs. Brickman submitted her testimony in a sworn affidavit under penalty of perjury..
Anna Orth, a Maricopa County poll observer, testified in the public hearing held by Arizona State Legislature that her request to see the signature verification process was turned down. The envelope of the mail-in ballots that were brought into the room had already been opened, and when she asked to check signatures, she was refused and told that the signature had been checked in another room.