During the 2020 election, auditors “found that the votes of Black residents were thrown out four times as often as those of white voters” for mail-in ballots in Washington state. Voters of Hispanic, Native American, and Asian and Pacific Islander backgrounds also had heightened rejection rates.  

These findings are a definitive cause for concern as the nation wrestles with voting rights, secure ballots, and voter access. 

Democratic State Auditor Pat McCarthy’s office “conducted the audit” and said, “‘It’s not acceptable, quite frankly’…[and] urged election officials to take steps to address the disparities.” 

Co-founder of Black Voters Matter, LaTosha Brown said “That shouldn’t be concerning just for me as a Black American…That should be concerning for anyone who cares about democracy.” 

All the rejections were due to “problematic signatures,” meaning the signature of a voter couldn’t “be verified with the one on file, or a signature is missing from the ballot envelope.” 

What is worse is that these findings in Washington are not isolated, and similar research in states like Georgia and Florida has produced analogous results, which is extremely troubling.  

Voter turnout in states that have all-mail balloting is typically high and with the COVID-19 pandemic, voting by mail has increased in popularity—in the 2020 election, 43 percent of voters cast their ballot via mail across the country.  

In the last few months, Republicans have been working around the clock to pass legislation that would inhibit voting by mail, under the guise of feigning concern over fraud allegations, being lost in the mail, or voter intimidation. Many of us can recall when “President Donald J. Trump falsely claimed that mail elections would be rigged by ballots printed in foreign countries and children raiding mailboxes.” 

On the other hand, the Democratic party and voting rights activists are calling for expanded access to mail-in ballots, “and a growing number of states” are heeding their call.  

“Eight states now send every voter a mail-in ballot by default, even as many of them continue to operate in-person polling places. Some states have allowed mail-in balloting for county or city elections. All states have some option for absentee ballots for voters who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day,” the New York Times reports.