Top Reasons Ballots Get Rejected
Ballots get rejected?
To ensure the anonymity and security of mail-in ballots, voters must complete their ballots and follow the instructions correctly. Parents know this: no matter how excellent the teacher and his/her class of students, there’s no test or assignment where every student gets 100%. Students forget to write their names at the top. They forget to have a parent sign the permission slip. Adults make mistakes with mail-in ballots, too. Things happen. So ballots do get rejected when they fail to meet the requirements of the election and especially pertaining to mail-in ballots. What would you guess is the TOTAL percentage of votes that were rejected – regardless of reason and as a percentage of the total votes cast (includes Provisional Ballots and Election Day machine votes) – in the last Presidential Primary Election (June 2016)? Take the poll and vote below! You can only vote once and the answer appears after your vote.
The top reasons for ballot rejection (updated 6/6/20)
Data from all Primary and General elections, years 2015-2019 shows that the top 8 reasons that ballots were rejected out of the total Mail-in Ballots received (which is a smaller pool than total votes cast) was less than 3.25%:
- Certificate Not Signed (CNS)
- Ballots received After Polls closed (BAP)
- Certificate Missing (CMS)
- Signature Does Not Match (SNM)
- Other (O)
- Incomplete Bearer Portion (IBP)
- Ballot Not Enclosed (BNE)
- Primary – Voted both Parties (PVP)
While we don’t know what “Other” constitutes, all these reasons are perfectly in our control as voters to avoid being rejected. However, ATNJ Education Fund will work not only to educate, but to also affect change giving voters the ability to cure their ballot.
What can voters do to prevent their ballot from being rejected?
For the July 7th Primary Election, voters need to pay close attention to 2 CRITICAL THINGS:
- The Certificate of Mail-in Voter
- The Postmark deadline
1. Certificate of Mail-in Voter
Three of the top 8 reasons for rejection are due to voter errors on this important election security feature: Certificate Not Signed (CNS), Certificate Missing (CMS), Signature Does Not Match (SNM).
Q: What are the security measures here and why does it stay still attached after the voter completes it?
A: The Certificate contains the voter’s information, the voter’s signature that is matched against their signature on file, and information if they received assistance. Once the Board of Elections receives this inner envelope and verifies those three things, they then tear if off and separate it from the envelope, keeping the ballot inside a secret. Once the envelope is opened (without the attached Certificate flap) no identifying features are on the ballot itself keeping the vote completely anonymous.
- You MUST fill it out complete and SIGN it using your “official” signature, not your grocery store receipt relaxed signature!
- DO NOT detach it. DO NOT tear it off. It has to stay attached as-is.
What about signature mismatch?
As the fourth highest reason for having the ballot rejected, voters can avoid this by making sure they update their signature if it’s been a long time since they’ve registered to vote. The signature will be compared to the Voter Registration signature that is digitized in the State Voter Registration system. If you’ve changed your name due to marriage, divorce, or go by a different name like a nickname, be sure to update using the Voter Registration Application shown below.
The second highest reason for rejection: Ballots received after Election Day! 🤷
An astounding number of ballots were rejected due to ballots received after election day. Voters have several weeks to study their ballot, vote, and to drop off or mail in plenty of time. DO NOT WAIT. To ensure it gets postmarked or received by the Board of Elections on time, here are the tips:
- If you want to mail it, walk into your post office and ask the mail person to stamp the postmark in front of you ensuring the postmark.
- It must be postmarked by July 7, 2020. (The Board of Elections must receive it by July 14th, 8pm.
- If you want to bypass USPS and not worry that it won’t get delivered, drop in off at a secure ballot drop box nearest you. Executive Order 144 specifies that each county shall have at 5 boxes per county. Check your county board of elections website for up-to-date announcements regarding their location.
- Deliver it yourself or via your bearer at a staffed ballot drop location.
Incomplete Bearer Portion
The law allow voters to designate a Bearer, someone to take your ballot and deliver it to the Board of Elections. However, the Bearer portion must be filled out by the Bearer. The Bearer portion appears on the outer return envelope. Voters must ensure that the Bearer they use is not transporting more than 3 ballots per each election. If you are NOT using a Bearer to transport/deliver your ballot, DO NOT fill this out. Only fill out this portion if you designate someone to transport this ballot for you.
Ballot Not Enclosed???
In the last election, the 2019 General Election, 349 New Jersey voters forgot to include their ballot in the envelope. 😕This is clearly another mistake that voters make. PLEASE be sure you have all the pieces you need for your vote to count: your ballot; your inner envelope sealed with the Certificate filled out, signed, and attached; and your outer envelope sealed and Bearer portion filled out if you use one. If the outer envelope requires your return address, fill that out and anything else the instructions tell you to do!
What are the other reasons for ballot rejection?
Below are the other reasons possbile for a voter’s ballot to be rejected listed alphabetically by code followed by the description. The notes appearing after the dash is further clarification that we provided.
- BEL Bearer Exceeded Limit – No person can serve as a bearer for more than 3 qualified voters per election.
- BEU Both Envelopes Unsealed – Remember to seal both or it is considered tampered with
- BNE Ballot Not Enclosed
- BNS Bearer Book Not Signed In – All bearers must present an ID and sign in a book upon drop-off.
- CPS Candidate Provided Assistance – Candidates are not allowed to provide assistance to any qualified voters.
- IAP Incomplete Assistor Portion – Voters are allowed to have a family member or other person to assist them but they must fill this portion on the envelope completely.
- IBP Incomplete Bearer Portion – Voters are permitted to have a bearer – anyone they designate – to take their sealed ballots to a designated staffed ballot drop but the voter must fill out this portion on the envelope completely.
- MEL Mail Bearer Exceeded Limit
- MOC Moved Out Of County
- OEU One Envelope Unsealed – Both outer and inner envelopes must arrived sealed to be counted.
- POA Power of Attorney
- PPP Party Privilege after the Primary Election
- PVP Primary-Voted Both Parties – This is spoiled ballot in the Primary as Unaffiliated voters can only return one party’s ballot.
- VIM Voter Reg. ID Missing
- VWP Voted in Wrong Party
👇👇👇 If you found this page to be helpful, please SHARE it widely. Help educate voters!Uyen “Winn” Khuong, Executive Director, ATNJ Education Fund