NPR: Despite mail voting changes, ballot rejections remain relatively low in 2022 midterms
Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Common Cause, says that since the beginning of the pandemic, voting by mail or absentee has become significantly more popular. In response, some states expanded access to mail in voting.
"What we also saw in 2020 was the demonization of vote by mail," Albert says. "This really affected state legislatures during the 2021 sessions. So, even though we saw a lot of states expand access, we saw other states restrict access."
She says that includes laws that set new limits on drop boxes, new ID requirements, as well as tighter deadlines for turning in a mail ballot.
Albert says that even if the percentage of mail ballots that are thrown out remains relatively small, there were still hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. "who tried to have their voices heard but were silenced" when their ballot was tossed out.
"We know that elections are getting closer," she said. "And we know that every small policy change actually can make a big difference — and a difference enough to flip an election."
Particularly in local races, Albert says, a few rejected ballots could have made a difference in the outcome of an election.