The key empirical question that must be asked about the 2020 election results is why the rejection rate for vote-by-mail ballots dropped dramatically from the primary season, when mass vote-by-mail began in some states, to the general election.
Absentee ballots, which are traditionally a very small proportion of the vote in most states, are typically rejected at a rate of 1% to 2%. However, the rate of faulty absentee ballots rose to 25% after mass vote-by-mail was adopted earlier this year.
The Washington Post reported in August:
More than 534,000 mail ballots were rejected during primaries across 23 states this year — nearly a quarter in key battlegrounds for the fall — illustrating how missed delivery deadlines, inadvertent mistakes and uneven enforcement of the rules could disenfranchise voters and affect the outcome of the presidential election.
Nevada’s Clark County saw 17 percent of vote-by-mail ballots returned as undeliverable. Though New York is not a battleground state, one in four mailed-in primary ballots that were returned in New York City were also rejected for errors.
However, early reports about the rejection rate for mailed-in ballots in the general election suggest that it was lower than in 2016 — perhaps a fraction of a percent, up to 30 times lower than absentee ballots in an election without mass vote-by-mail.
No one has yet explained the dramatic improvement, which could be the result of one or more of the following explanations:
- Lower standards. Democrats sued in many states — including Pennsylvania –to remove signature, witness, and postmark requirements, and also to extend deadlines. Lowering the standards could result in a far lower rate of ballot rejection.
- Voter education. Democrats invested in teaching their voters how to fill out and return mail-in ballots. (Democratic attorney Marc Elias, who sued to loosen vote-by-mail requirements once argued minority voters would struggle to fill them out.)
- Fraud. Republicans warned for months that vote-by-mail would be susceptible to fraud. Former President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, said the same in 2005. More evidence is needed of fraud in the 2020 election before this can be substantiated.
There may also be other explanations for the improvement. The important thing is to know as soon as possible, before the results of the 2020 election are certified, so that Americans can go forward confident that the 2020 election was legitimate.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.