Florida and Georgia—two crucial battleground states in the 2020 election—are rejecting mailed-in ballots from voters of color at substantially higher rates than those from white voters, according to a recent analysis by NBC News and the Democratic political data firm TargetSmart.
According to NBC News, the data looks at mailed-in ballots across 11 different states. But what makes Georgia and Florida significant—apart from their status as swing states—is that they’ve already released numbers for ballots flagged for errors or rejection according to race and ethnicity. The two major presidential candidates are also expected to run a tight race in both states.
In both states, more than 7,900 ballots cast by Asian, Black and Latinx voters have been marked for voter errors at higher rates than their white counterparts, writes NBC News. Nonwhite Floridians have had their mail-in ballots rejected at twice the rate of white voters in the state, though there is still a chance for these voters to have their ballot counted. Election officials are supposed to contact voters who have issues with their ballots and give them until Thursday to correct their ballots. Early data shows that the reason most ballots have been rejected in the Sunshine State have been because voters didn’t sign their ballot envelopes.
In Georgia, there were more differences among nonwhite voters when it came to rejection rates. The mail ballots for Asian voters were flagged the most, at nearly three times the rate of white Georgians’ ballots. For Black voters, rejection rates were a little more than twice the rate of white voters, while Latinx voters saw their mail ballots rejected twice as much as their white peers.
Like Florida, Georgians with rejected ballots will have time to fix their ballots (and officials are supposed to notify voters if there have been issues with their ballots), but the secretary of state’s office says few voters have attempted to do this.
These findings are consistent with other analyses that have found nonwhite voters’ mail ballots being rejected at higher rates, including an earlier study this year focused on another battleground state, North Carolina. Due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus, mail-in ballots are expected to be a much higher percentage of all votes this year, though recent polling has found that Black voters still prefer to vote in-person. One recent Black Futures Lab poll found Black voters more inclined to vote in-person by a 2-to-1 margin.
The good news here is that, thus far, there are low rejection rates overall for the 11 states analyzed in the recent report. Rejected ballots comprise only 0.27 percent of all mailed-in ballots from battleground states, and many of those states give voters a chance to correct—or “cure—their ballots. As NBC News points out, the rate of rejected mailed-in ballots will likely rise as more votes pile in because late ballots are the top reason votes are rejected.