In a normal election year in any given state, hundreds or even thousands of absentee ballots get tossed for everything from late postmarks to open envelopes.
North Carolina rejected 546 ballots for missing witness signatures in the 2012 presidential race. Virginia tossed 216 ballots in the 2018 midterms because they arrived in an unofficial envelope. Arizona discarded 1,516 ballots for nonmatching signatures the same year.
The 2020 presidential election will not be normal.
Absentee ballot rejections this November are projected to reach historic levels, risking widespread disenfranchisement of minority voters and the credibility of election results, a USA TODAY, Columbia Journalism Investigations and PBS series FRONTLINE investigation found.
At least 1.03 million absentee ballots could be tossed if half of the nation votes by mail. Discarded votes jump to 1.55 million if 75% of the country votes absentee. In the latter scenario, more than 185,000 votes could be lost in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin – states considered key to capturing the White House.