Thousands of California primary mail-in ballots have been invalidated after arriving too late to be counted.
In Los Angeles County alone, 2,400 ballots have been declared invalid because election officials did not have the ballots in-hand by the close of polls on Election Day, according to the Associated Press. Even if ballots are postmarked on or before Election Day, as was the case with 600 invalidated ballots in Santa Cruz County, they cannot be counted because officials can only count ballots they physically receive on or before Election Day.
“The only thing worse than not voting is people trying to vote and having their ballots go uncounted,” California Voter Foundation president Kim Alexander told the AP.
According to a Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) report, a total of nearly 21,000 statewide mail-in ballots arrived too late to be counted. Those votes could have had a major impact on at least one statewide race still too close to call; the state controller race, where former Assembly Speaker John Perez leads Board of Equalization member Betty Yee by just a few hundred votes for the chance to take on Ashley Swearengin in November’s general election.
“In some cases we are seeing one to one-and-a-half percent of the ballots being late,” voting records analyst Paul Mitchell said in the report. “And we’re looking at a controller’s race that right now is separated by eight-one-thousandth of a percent.”
According to Political Data Inc., which sells voter information to campaigns, at least 30,000 ballots were invalidated in 2012 because they arrived too late to be counted. Most of those ballots reportedly came from those under 30 years old.