At least 65,000 mail-in or absentee ballots already have been rejected in this year's primary elections because they arrived past the deadline or contain other errors, causing experts to be concerned about what will happen in November's general election.
"That's the sort of thing that makes me wary about what's going to happen in November when we get an even larger influx of people who haven't voted or haven't voted by mail in the past," Charles Stewart, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology political scientist, commented to NPR.
Stewart said that many who use mail-in voting for the first time, particularly voters who are Black, Latino, or young, are more likely to have their ballots be rejected because of being late or for other errors.
Both political parties are launching campaigns to try to shape the rules for this fall. Democrats and voter advocacy groups have filed lawsuits in 10 states to challenge laws requiring mail-in ballots to be received before or by Election Day, arguing that the ballots should be accepted as long as they are postmarked on time.
Republicans and election integrity groups, however, say extending deadlines will undermine public confidence and delay results by weeks. In addition, President Donald Trump and other Republicans say mail-in ballots will mean a higher potential for fraud.
Most election officials say they don't think candidates will "find more late votes" and change results if deadlines are extended, but Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, said she thinks voters will be confused if the deadlines are changed. Also, many pieces of mail are not postmarked, she said.
The state has agreed to encourage other options, such as drop boxes where voters can leave their ballots to be collected later by election officials, and Hobbs said the option lets voters submit their ballots on time without risking exposure to coronavirus.
However, the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign have sued the state of Pennsylvania, saying the drop boxes are not secure.
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