• Errors in completing absentee ballots or delayed delivery could disenfranchise thousands of voters
  • High ballot rejection rates could be especially significant in battleground states
  • The Trump campaign is out to make the administration of the election as difficult as possible, Democrats charge

President Trump has been attempting to sow distrust in widespread mail-in voting for months, claiming without evidence it could lead to widespread fraud and complaining it could delay election results for days if not months. But the real problem, especially in battleground states, could be a high rejection rate of absentee ballots.

Trump wants to muddy the waters further. He suggested last week in North Carolina that voters vote twice – once by mail and then again on Election Day – to test the system.

Guy Cecil, chairman of Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, told reporters the Trump campaign is going to make the administration of the election as difficult as possible.

An Associate Press analysis of rejected ballots during this year’s primaries indicates three times as many voters could see their ballots rejected in key states compared to 2016, with the problem most pronounced in urban areas.

Thousands of absentee ballots are rejected every election for arriving late, lack of voter signatures or discrepancies between the signature on the ballot and what election officials have on file. When considering as many as half the votes cast in November could be mailed in, the danger of disenfranchisement multiplies – especially in Democratic strongholds with surveys indicating Democrats are more likely than Republicans to opt for remote voting.

Although all states have allowed absentee voting on a limited basis, five – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington – have conducted all-mail elections for years while half the states allow voters to request an absentee ballot for any reason.

Twenty-two states expanded the option this year in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, with five of them – California, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey and Vermont – sending ballots out automatically to most voters and the other 17 sending out applications for absentee ballots. Only six states – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Indiana and South Carolina – require an excuse beyond coronavirus to vote absentee.

“There could be a lot of people who are voting this way for the first time, and they tend to make the errors that lead to lost votes,” Larry Norden, an elections expert with the Brennan Center for Justice, told the AP.

Some states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania, are precluded from processing absentee ballots until Election Day, making it impossible for voters to be contacted to fix any errors. Postal service delays also could play a significant role.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said on “Meet the Press” Sunday Election Day could turn into election week.

“The bottom line is we are not going to have the full results and a counting of all of our ballots on election night. We already know that. We've asked the legislature to make changes to the laws to give us more ability to be prepared and count those ballots more efficiently,” but no action was taken, she said.