December 6, 2023

A latest evaluation carried out by the Democratic Celebration of Virginia’s voter safety effort revealed {that a} disproportionate variety of absentee ballots solid by voters of coloration are being rejected statewide, with among the highest disparities occurring in areas close to Richmond and Hampton Roads, that are dwelling to extremely aggressive Common Meeting races this yr.

Mail poll knowledge shared with The Dogwood discovered that African American voters’ ballots are being rejected at greater than twice the speed of these of white voters. 

As of Oct. 27, 5.2% of African American voters’ absentee ballots have been rejected statewide, whereas solely 2.5% of ballots solid by white voters have been rejected.

Different non-white voters are additionally having their ballots rejected at a disproportionate fee; 3.4% of Latino voters’ absentee ballots are being rejected, and three.2% of AAPI voters’ absentee ballots are being rejected. 

In sure localities, the affect of absentee rejections on African American voters is even larger. The rejection fee in Henrico County is 6.6% amongst African American voters and simply 3.0% amongst white voters. In Newport Information, 6.0% of African American voters’ ballots have been rejected, in contrast with simply 3.2% of these solid by white voters.

“Black Virginians’ ballots are being rejected at twice the speed of these of white voters. That is unacceptable, and raises the stakes for election officers to get this proper. Each Virginian has a constitutional proper to vote and have that poll counted,” stated Aaron Mukerjee, voter safety director for the Democratic Celebration of Virginia. “We can’t permit limitations to undermine the elemental proper to vote for communities of coloration.”

The Youngkin administration’s Division of Elections – which is led by longtime Republican political operative Susan Beals – didn’t reply to a request for touch upon these racial disparities.

This yr’s absentee poll rejection fee amongst all voters seems shockingly excessive in comparison with earlier elections. An MIT examine of Virginia absentee ballots solid within the 2020 election discovered that simply .64% had been rejected that yr. To date in 2023, 2.92% of all voters’ absentee ballots have been rejected statewide.

Nevertheless, the 2020 knowledge displays the ultimate tally of rejected ballots, after most voters had the chance to repair their poll errors through a course of often called “curing.”

Absentee ballots returned through mail could also be rejected if the voter info on the envelope containing the precise poll is lacking any of the next:

  • The voter’s final title;
  • The voter’s home quantity, road title, or rural route tackle;
  • Both the voter’s metropolis or zip code;
  • The voter’s signature
  • The voter’s delivery yr; or
  • The final 4 digits of the voter’s social safety quantity.

Many citizens within the 2023 elections may also have the chance to “treatment” their ballots, which is the method by which voters are notified that their poll envelope is lacking among the required info and might submit it in order that their absentee poll may be tallied. Voters have till midday on Monday, Nov. 13, to treatment their poll.

If absentee ballots acquired by basic registrars by this Friday, Nov. 3, are lacking any of the required identification knowledge, registrars should notify the voter inside three days. If an absentee poll is acquired after this date (however earlier than the statewide voting deadline of seven p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7) wants curing, state regulation doesn’t require registrars to inform that voter.

Political events sometimes additionally have interaction within the curing course of to assist guarantee all legitimate ballots are counted.

This yr’s racially disproportionate poll rejection fee information comes on the heels of revelations that Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Division of Elections illegally disenfranchised nearly 3,400 voters – and presumably much more.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood’s chief political correspondent. She can also be the nation’s foremost professional in state politics with nearly 20 years of expertise in statehouse machinations, and her comedian e book assortment might be larger than yours.

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