Vote generic

By Delia Engstrom/For

Seventy percent of the mail-in ballots rejected by Arlington election officials in the July 7 County Board special election were because people did not have a witness sign the envelope the ballot was returned in.

Seventy-one of the 101 rejected mail-in-absentee ballots were eliminated for that reason, county elections chief Gretchen Reinemeyer told Electoral Board members on July 29.

The confusion among the electorate may have been understandable; the requirement to have a witness sign the envelope had not been enforced statewide for the June 23 Republican U.S. Senate primary, but a signature was required for the Arlington race two weeks later.

(The 101 mail-in-absentee ballots that were rejected – for no signatures and other reasons – represented about 1 percent of all mail-in-absentee ballots cast in that race, and had no bearing on a three-way race that was won handily by Democrat Takis Karantonis.)

State officials have yet to determine requirements for witness signatures on absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 – “we just don’t know,” Reinemeyer said – but county election officials said they would keep the public in the loop.

“We hate to see people’s ballots rejected,” Electoral Board chairman Charlene Bickford said.

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(4) comments


Appalling. Why wasn't the requirement printed on the envelope?

Allen Muchnick

The instructions for a witness signature ARE clearly printed on the return envelope. Voters who vote by mail must read and follow the instructions.


Larger size printed instructions obviously required.

Wayne Kubicki

Methinks the take-away fact in Scott's story is that 99% of the mail-in absentee ballots were accepted. I find the 1% rejection rate (actually, <1% for the missing witness signature) to be incredibly low.

IMHO, a properly run mail-in absentee voting program (where the voter has to formally request a ballot) is a perfectly acceptable method of voting. OTOH, simply automatically mailing a ballot to every voter in the registry system presents way too many possibilities for mischief of all kinds.

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