These New Election “Errors” Could Change Everything


LA County stated that 27% of the signatures to recall D.A. George Gascón were invalid. This is in contrast to less than 1% of mail-in ballots being reported as invalid during the 2020 election.

Out of the 715,833 submitted signatures, 195,783 were rejected by the county–this is around 27.3%. The reasons for rejection included unregistered voters; incorrect addresses given; or signatures not matching those on file.

Out of the 3,422,585 mail ballots submitted in January 2021, the county invalidated less than 1%. To test a ballot’s validity, they check signatures and addresses as they would with petitions.

Given that the State of California delivered ballots to all voters on the list, rather than just those who had requested them as in prior years, there was a significant risk of error; some voters reported getting several ballots, many for previous inhabitants. (These problems persisted in last year’s recall election for Gov. Gavin Newsom, as personally observed by this author.)

However, in 2020, the county found that 99.38% of mail ballots were accepted. The amount of vote-by-mail ballots rejected due to faulty signatures (12,135) was comparable to the number invalidated during the recall campaign (9,490), despite the fact that the election required roughly five times more signatures to be examined.

In the 2020 primary election, when several states were Voting by mail for the first time, about one-fourth of ballots were rejected. However, in the general election that same year, that rate dropped to less than 1 percent nationwide—and was lower than 2016’s rejection rate in many states… despite fewer people voting by mail.

According to one explanation, “states … took steps to prevent ballots from being discarded due to late arrival,” and that voters were given the opportunity to “cure” invalid ones. Given the emphasis on vote-by-mail during the epidemic, some cynics suggested that officials may have lowered standards for rejection.

After some county officials said that the petition drive didn’t qualify as an “election” under state law, recall proponents said they were not allowed to view the signature verification process.

Author: Scott Dowdy