As more and more states move toward conducting the November elections entirely by mail, numerous concerns have been raised. These often have to do with the possibility (if not probability) of ballot harvesting or other types of voter fraud. Even those who believe the chances of fraud taking place are low express concerns over states with little experience in this type of voting messing up the process, leading to massive delays in knowing the results or significant numbers of people simply being able to legally cast a ballot. But even if everything is planned out well and organized with enough time to spare, and the Post Office is up to the task, the state of Nevada has shown us another significant threat lurking in the background.
When Nevada conducted their primary in June, they hastily concocted a system whereby all of the voters would receive their ballots in the mail in a timely fashion. But there was one major fly in the ointment that nobody seemed to see coming. As the Free Beacon reports, in Clark County (the state’s largest, which includes Vegas) more than 200,000 ballots were sent to the wrong addresses so the voters never received them.
More than one-sixth of the mail-in ballots sent to voters in Nevada’s largest county during the 2020 primary went to outdated addresses, according to a new watchdog report.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation, an election integrity group, reviewed the 1.3 million mail-in ballots Nevada’s Clark County sent during the June primary. It found that more than 223,000 of the ballots were sent to outdated addresses, leading the postal service to designate them as “undeliverable.” The undeliverable ballots accounted for 17 percent of all ballots mailed to registered voters. Nearly 75 percent of Nevada’s total population resides in the county, which includes Las Vegas.
“These numbers show how vote by mail fails,” said J. Christian Adams, PILF’s president and general counsel. “New proponents of mail balloting don’t often understand how it actually works.
So how did Nevada get it so wrong? Well… technically they didn’t. Their system generated ballots for all of the registered voters, printed them and got them to the Post Office in time for voters to receive them, complete them and send them back. The problem is that nearly twenty percent of the people on the voter rolls no longer lived at the address that was listed on the rolls. As one PILF representative pointed out, the reason that states such as Oregon and Washington do so well with mail-in voting is that they are “notably aggressive” in maintaining their voter lists.
The error rates in those two states are very low, so nearly all of the ballots show up at the proper destination. Not so in Nevada, where all of the ballots heading to incorrect addresses were marked as “undeliverable” by the Post Office and eventually returned. By that point, it was far too late to vote.
Why were nearly one in five of Nevada’s addresses of record wrong? Well, people move. People die. People get married and their names change. There’s any number of factors that can lead to last year’s information no longer being valid this year.
The fact is that recordkeeping for such things is shoddy in many states. We don’t keep track of when people die or when they move. Only when they are born or originally register to vote. Some states have so many dead people on the voter rolls that it looks like a season-ending cliffhanger from the Walking Dead. In order for states like New York or Florida to get their records in order, it would take years of cleanup work and a total rethink of how they police such public records. New laws would be required to ensure that the rolls remain clean, even if they somehow managed to clean them up for one cycle.
This is a preview of what we can expect in November. Thus far, many media commentators are only focusing on the fact that it may take longer before the official results can be called. And so what, right? We can afford to wait a few weeks. But if a state like Florida fails to deliver 17% of its ballots to the proper address, you’re going to be looking at a complete collapse in voter confidence and the integrity of the election. And it will be their own fault.