OAKLAND, Calif. - Millions of Californians are expected to mail-in ballots for the November general election, but more than 100 thousand may be rejected by county registrars.
Data released by the California Secretary of State’s Office shows in the June primary election, 105,818 vote-by-mail ballots were disqualified. That’s about 1.6 % of all ballots submitted by mail.
Of those rejected, nearly 70,000 arrived late. Others were missing a signature or had one that didn’t match the signature on file.
Researchers say the ballot rejections disproportionally happens to first-time voters and voters of color.
"We do know for example you people are more likely if they get their ballot rejected, it’s because it’s late," said USC political sociologist Mindy Romero. "For Latinos it’s more likely to be a signature issue. For new voters it can also be a signature issue."
The data report recently released shows in the Bay Area most counties had between a 1% and 2% rate of challenged ballots.
But the outlier is Alameda County, which only had a 0.3% rejection rate, raising concerns.
"Is there something being hidden here is the concern," attorney Jason Bezis said. "It doesn’t make statistical sense."
Bezis represents the Alameda County Taxpayers Association, which accuses the registrar of voters of counting late ballots.
The data shows Alameda County reported only 23 late ballots while neighboring Contra Costa County had 3,388 and Santa Clara County had 3,776.
"There is a problem with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters that needs to be diagnosed and treated," Bezis said. "And if there’s a problem with the data from the last election, we need to know right now what went wrong with reporting the data so everyone can have confidence in this November election."
Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis tells KTVU his office has researched this issue and responded by email.
"There were actually over 4,000 rejected ballots," he said. "There is a reporting issue that we are working to resolve."
He provided no additional details or answers to follow-up questions.
The situation has made some question their confidence in the election process.
"If there is any time there should be openness and transparency, it’s right now," Bezis said.