Ten million mail-in ballots 'unaccounted for' in California, watchdog group claims

Ballots likely "ignored" or "thrown out" by recipients

Published: January 19, 2023 1:56pm

Updated: January 19, 2023 2:07pm

Millions upon millions of mail-in ballots in California have gone unaccounted for following the state's first major test of its universal mail-in voting program, a watchdog group claimed this month. 

The Public Interest Legal Foundation said in a report this month that "10 million mail ballots [were] unaccounted for" following this year's November elections. 

California in 2021 became one of just a handful of states to adopt a universal mail-in voting policy, whereby every voter in the state receives a ballot to vote via mail prior to an election. 

The PILF said in its report that "after accounting for polling place votes and rejected ballots in November 2022, there were more than 10 million ballots left outstanding," meaning "election officials do not know what happened to them."

"It is fair to assume that the bulk of these were ignored or ultimately thrown out by the intended recipients," the group said.

PILF argued that universal mail-in voting rules "have an insurmountable information gap."

"The public cannot know how many ballots were disregarded, delivered to wrong mailboxes, or even withheld from the proper recipient by someone at the same address," they wrote. 

The group further noted that, in the 2022 primaries and elections, "226,250 mail ballots were rejected by election officials," many due to signature problems or late submissions.

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