'that's a concern'
Washington state audit reveals Black voters' mail ballots were tossed at 4 times the rate of white voters'
A review conducted by the state auditor's office in Washington found that, in the 2020 election, counties were more likely to reject the mail ballots of younger voters, men, and people of color when compared to other demographics and racial groups, the Seattle Times reports.
On a more specific level, the audit determined that mail ballots belonging to Black voters were "thrown out four times as often as those of white voters," The New York Times adds. Such rejections "disqualified one out of every 40 mail-in votes from Black people," the Times notes, adding that the cause for every rejection was a problematic signature. Rejection rates were elevated for Native American, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander voters, as well.
The analysis also determined that "where a person lives was the most significant factor to whether their election ballot was rejected"; for example, mail ballots submitted to certain counties were four to seven times more likely to face rejection than those submitted to others, notes the Seattle Times.
"There were some disparities between the counties, and that's a concern," state Auditor Pat McCarthy told the Seattle Times. "Who you are and where you live should never matter."
Officials said there were no signs that ballots cast by minority voters were intentionally targeted; rather, the issue was with signatures that were either missing or did not match those on file, notes the Times. Such an issue could be the result of "voter inexperience, language problems or other factors."
In terms of remedying the situation, recommendations include increased voter outreach, targeted education regarding signature requirements, and even perhaps eliminating the need for a signature match to begin with, the Seattle Times and the Times report.