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Old 15 October 2008, 06:36 PM
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United States Are absentee ballots counted?

Comment: I'm voting by absentee ballot for the first time this election, and my
friend said absentee ballots are only counted in close elections. After a
call to the local board of elections, in GA, it turns out this is not
true. Different states have different rules for
counting absentee ballots. Is it possible for you to run down what states
have different counting rules? (And suggest people voting by absentee
ballot get ro their ballot to the various boards on the day of election?
I was mistaken in thinking the ballot just had to be postmakred by
election day. I was wrong.)
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  #2  
Old 28 October 2012, 06:17 AM
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Comment: Actually, the rumor circulated during the last Presidential
election and now I'm hearing it again. The rumor is that the absentee
ballots will not be counted unless the count is very close. Since I'm an
absentee ballot voter, each time I hear this I get concerned. I want to
not believe it, but I'd like to be sure.
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  #3  
Old 28 October 2012, 07:10 AM
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I have heard before that if after the early and election day ballots are counted, the margin of victory is greater than the number of returned absentee ballots, the absentee ballots are not counted. The logic being of course that the absentee ballots take a good bit of extra handling to count, and if they would not make a difference it makes no sense to spend that extra money. It makes sense, but I have no links.
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  #4  
Old 28 October 2012, 07:29 AM
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The National Association of Secretaries of State published a report earlier this year on absentee ballot deadlines and counting dates.
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  #5  
Old 28 October 2012, 03:57 PM
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This might come from confusion about when a candidate concedes. If Candidate A realizes that their never going to beat Candidate B- the margin is too high to be affected by absentee ballots- he concedes on election night, choosing not to wait for the absentee ballot result. But a concession, IIRC, isn't an official withdrawal from the race, it's just an acknowledgement of reality, and has no bearing on the official process.

The other thing that has to be considered is that it's probably not that likely that a ballot doesn't have a down-ballot race where the absentee ballots aren't figured in, or won't play some part in the margin of victory. My ballot, for example, has the race for the 24th NY Congressional, which is an even split between the Democrat and Republican, with the Green Party nominee at 10% or so. Yes, there's no way anyone but Obama will take NY, but there are always down-ticket races to consider as well, and local elections quite often come down to a handful of votes.
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  #6  
Old 28 October 2012, 07:07 PM
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Even if absentee ballots may not be sufficient in number to affect the outcome of any particular race, there are other reasons to ensure they're counted. Sometimes, for example, the determination of whether a political party qualifies to appear on a ballot depends upon the number of votes they received in a previous election.
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Old 28 October 2012, 07:13 PM
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What snopes said is a reason why they might try to pull the "too wide to make a difference" trick. You'd have an easier time getting the NEA to support charter schools than getting the two major parties to do anything that hurts their duopoly.
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Old 29 October 2012, 02:44 PM
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Not that I am confident that absentee ballots are all counted, the idea that they would only be counted in a tight race is alarming. Our local sample ballot is eight pages long with a number of other races as well as many constitutional amendments.

Our local SOE claims the absentee ballots are counted first, then early voting and then election day votes. Her office has been encouraging absentee voting, "so you can avoid long lines on election day". She consolidated many polling places to save money so she is worried the lines could be long. Early voting has started and folks are waiting over an hour to vote. If you took all the time I've ever waited to vote in every election I don't think it would add up to an hour.

With all the issues we've had here in Florida, it does give one pause to wonder.
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  #9  
Old 30 October 2012, 06:35 AM
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About a decade ago, when I first became eligible to vote, I remember a California ballot proposition that would require all ballots to be counted. Until then, apparently, the policy had been that once the number of ballots--all ballots, not necessarily absentee--dwindled to the point of being smaller than the margin by which all issues and candidates were winning or losing, the poll workers could call it a day. It made sense, but I voted for the proposition anyway, and I think it passed. I'm too lazy to look it up right now, but I might be able to find it if anyone's interested.
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  #10  
Old 30 October 2012, 06:56 AM
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Read This! California Voting FAQ

http://www.calvoter.org/voter/faq.html

Quote:
All Vote by Mail ballots that are returned to county election offices by 8 p.m. on Election Day are counted. Periodically rumors circulate that Vote by Mail ballots are only counted in close contests - these rumors are untrue.

What is true is that thousands of Vote by Mail ballots don't get counted because they arrive late, or the voter failed to sign the outside of the return envelope (which election officials use to verify the voter's signature), or the voter signed the actual ballot instead of the envelope.

All votes legally cast in California are counted, regardless of whether they were cast at the polling place or submitted through the vote by mail process. It may take a little longer to incorporate all of the vote by mail votes into the final election results, but they are all counted.
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  #11  
Old 30 October 2012, 05:03 PM
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They're counted because there are multiple races to be determined. Maybe the state is going strongly for a presidential candidate, but the local town clerk may not be such a runaway.

For the sake of consistency and to avoid partisanship, all legal ballots are counted, even if the election results are known; the election is not official until the ballots are counted.
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  #12  
Old 31 October 2012, 08:43 AM
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I got sufficiently curious/desperate to put off Evidence reading to look up that ballot measure I mentioned, and was disappointed at how little time it took to find it. Guess it's back to the grindstone.

California Proposition 43 (March 2002): Right to have vote counted

(from the rebuttal in the voter information guide):
Quote:
Among other things, Proposition 43 would create a state constitutional right to have every (validly cast) ballot counted even when, mathematically, the ballot could not possibly affect the outcome of an election! Proposition 43 makes no sense.
It did pass.
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  #13  
Old 31 October 2012, 05:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esprise Me View Post
I remember a California ballot proposition that would require all ballots to be counted. Until then, apparently, the policy had been that once the number of ballots--all ballots, not necessarily absentee--dwindled to the point of being smaller than the margin by which all issues and candidates were winning or losing, the poll workers could call it a day.
I don't think that proposition really had anything to do with absentee ballots (or any others) not being counted if they were too small in number to affect the outcome of a race. It was an attempt to head off another Bush v. Gore scenario and prevent some outside agency (such as SCOTUS) from interfering with the state's conduct of its own recount.
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