8 Questions

Bill Turque on what to expect
on Election Day

Question 7: How do people who vote by mail or absentee ballot know their votes were counted?

Local registrars and elections officials say absentee ballots that are received on time are counted as long as they are correctly filled out. The notion that they are counted only if an election is close is “an old wives’ tale,” said the auditor who oversees voting in Iowa’s Polk County, Jamie Fitzgerald (D). “They all count.” The best way to ensure that your vote is counted, officials say, is for the signature on the ballot to match the one in the voter-registration record. But the spectacle of the 2000 recount and the subsequent rise of social media and its ability to spread rumors have fostered mistrust and eroded public confidence in the elections system. A national survey by the Voting Technology Project, a joint venture of the Massachusetts and California institutes of technology, found just 57 percent of those who voted by mail in were “very confident” that their ballots were counted. Seventy-four percent of Election Day voters expressed the same level of confidence. Many voters end up with uncounted ballots by failing to fill out all parts with appropriate signatures and addresses. States use varying degrees of diligence in contacting voters with flawed ballots. “Ours have three red X’s,” Fitzgerald said of the places on the ballot that must be filled out.

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