Campaigns are gearing up for the groundwork needed to reconcile rejected ballots across the county. These votes could prove pivotal in closely contested races.
For ballots to be counted, they must first be marked “accepted.” You can check on the status of your ballot at any time. Each voter has a ballot that is marked when it is mailed and received. Upon receipt by county election officials, ballots are either “accepted” with no validation errors, or rejected. The vast majority of ballots are immediately accepted, counted and thereby included in the final tallies for election rallies. These are the ballots that go into vote tallies for all election races. Rejected ballots are not counted because they failed to be validated and must be reconciled to be counted.
Counties can reject ballots for many reasons, but the most common are missing a signature, have a signature that didn’t match, or were postmarked too late. Late postmarked ballots are not eligible for reconciliation. The votes that are eligible for reconciliation must go through an affidavit process to ensure that the voter did cast the ballot that was received by the county. Anyone with a rejected ballot can contact the auditor’s office to have it accepted vice rejected. Still, most voters don’t realize this process exists or that their ballot was rejected in the first place.
For this reason, campaigns are preparing to do the hard volunteer work to reconcile these ballots for voters who likely have no idea they had a rejected vote.
Because ballot status is public information, volunteers can organize to help get ballots reconciled. The Washington State Republican Party, in coordination with multiple county and legislative district campaigns, are preparing to begin this laborious process tomorrow morning. Volunteers received training to understand the process and procedures for the task of ballot reconciliation. Voters’ political affiliation is not associated with ballot status, so political parties are likely to proceed carefully in the reconciliation process. There is no way for volunteers or political parties to know how individuals voted, only whether their vote was accepted or rejected. Reconciliation is allowed to continue until November 24th; after that, rejected ballots will remain uncounted.
Republican regional leaders estimate that Island County has up to 500 rejected ballots, but those numbers are speculative. At any rate, the volunteers stand ready to help ensure that voters have their votes counted in these very close elections.