CVF's 2020 report on rejected ballots included in the appendix a chart provided by the Secretary of State showing the reasons why some vote-by-mail ballots were rejected in the March 2020 California primary in the state's 58 counties. The chart is featured below and was accompanied by the following text:
“The following county report on vote-by-mail (VBM) acceptance and rejection data is from VoteCal (the statewide voter registration database) and county elections officials. In California, county elections officials are responsible for the processing and counting of ballots. All of the reasons for rejection in the chart below were assigned to ballots by county elections officials.
“While the Secretary of State’s office has worked, and continues to work, with county officials to create more uniform assignment of vote-by-mail ballot rejection reasons, each county may interpret definitions differently. For example, we found that some counties marked vote-by-mail ballots as rejected due to the “voter already voted” even when a voter had surrendered their vote-by-mail ballot and voted in-person (never casting the original now “rejected” vote-by-mail to begin with).
“If you have specific questions about a county’s data or processing procedures, please reach out directly to the county for explanation and context. The vote counting process in California is a transparent process that is observed by the public and campaigns. This report provided below follows this general perspective by providing a transparent look at the data collected by the state in regards to vote-by-mail ballot acceptance and rejection data.
“California is making a few changes to this November’s General Election to help ensure that lawfully cast vote-by-mail ballots are counted. With the signing of AB 860, vote-by- mail ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day will now be counted if they arrive to county elections officials up to 17 days following the election.
“The Secretary of State’s “Where’s My Ballot?” vote-by-mail ballot tracking tool will also be expanded statewide. Voters who sign-up for the tool will receive automatic notifications and reminders about their vote-by-mail ballots by text message (SMS), email, and/or voice call. For example, voters enrolled in this program will automatically get messages if they must take action (such as providing an updated/missing signature) so that their vote-by-mail ballot can be counted. They will also get reminders to return their vote-by-mail ballots.”