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Thousands of rejected absentee ballots in Florida show perils of voting by mail

Absentee ballots are often touted as a pain-free, easy way to cast a vote without having to stand in long lines at a polling station.

But nearly 2,500 Miami-Dade County voters had their absentee ballots rejected this election in what amounts to a wake-up call for those who ignore or fall prey to the perils and pitfalls of not voting in person. Another 2,100 ballots were rejected in Broward County.

Some voters forgot to sign their ballots. The county elections office negated others because the signature on the ballot didn’t match the voter’s on-file John Hancock. And three voters died in between Election Day and the time they sent in their absentee ballots.

Most absentee ballots in Miami-Dade and Broward were rejected because they arrived well after Nov. 6 at the elections office.

Many voters were angry. They cast their mail-in ballots from home for convenience, only to face a greater inconvenience when their vote didn’t count.

“I voted absentee because I realized lines in Miami-Dade County would be horrendous and I didn’t feel I wanted to deal with that hassle,” Patricia Tepedino, a 45-year-old Democratic Obama voter, wrote in an email.

Tepedino’s ballot was received after 7 p.m. Election Day. So it didn’t count. And now Tepedino says the experience “kind of does” give her pause about absentee-ballot voting in the future. Others said this was the first and last time they’d vote absentee.

The Miami Herald contacted more than 1,000 Miami-Dade voters, hundreds of whom responded by email and phone with explanations and recriminations concerning their rejected absentee ballots.

A large number of voters blamed the post office or the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which interrupted mail service in New York, where many Floridians live part-time. They said their ballots often arrived from the county just before or on Election Day.

A few criticized consulates or embassies from Abu Dhabi to Mexico to Jerusalem.

A family of three in Cali, Colombia had all of their ballots tossed over technical reasons. In Jerusalem, 56-year-old Ben Rose said he put his absentee ballot in the mail along with his wife’s at the same time. His ballot arrived Nov. 19 and didn’t count. His wife’s made it Oct. 21.

Story here

County          Ballots cast       Rejected           Rate
PIN 250,180 1,515 0.6%
DAD 245,413           2,467 1.0%
BRO 171,915 2,102 1.2%
HIL 171,323 1,669 1.0%
PAL 129,705 1,397 1.1%
PAS 60,105 457 0.8%