Comparing Petition Signature Rejection Rates to Mail-in Ballot Rejection Rates

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
2022-08-16_08-03-14.jpg

A recall petition and an election are very different things. In order to get a recall of an elected official on the ballot, you have to gather valid signatures of registered voters. You need at least 12% of the number of registered voters who voted in the last election for that office.

The signatures must be in-person (not online), so they are generally gathered in the street. Sometimes it's by passionate volunteers setting up tables, and sometimes it's people with clipboards asking other people in bust public places. As you can imagine, this is not the most rigorous of processes, and that plays out in the percentage of valid signatures:

Article:
The average signature validity rate for the 143 successful petition drives featured in this study is 75.33%. This means that three-quarters of signatures submitted by proponents were found to be valid and counted toward the minimum requirements.
The average signature validity rate for approved measures is 75.93%. The average signature validity rate for defeated measures is 75.02%.


So basically, you'd expect 25% of all the signatures gathered to be rejected. The people organizing a recall drive know this, and so they will maintain their efforts until they have a sufficient safety buffer.

In the recent (failed) LA County drive to recall the DA, the signature rejections were broken down as follows:
https://www.lavote.gov/docs/rrcc/news-releases/07152022_recall-petition-announcement.pdf
Based on the examination and verification, which was conducted in compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirements of the California Government Code, Elections Code, and Code of Regulations, 520,050 signatures were found to be valid and 195,783 were found to be invalid. To qualify the recall for the ballot, the petition required 566,857 valid signatures; therefore, the petition has failed to meet the sufficiency requirements and no further action shall be taken on the petition. A summary breakdown of the invalid signatures is as follows:
• Not Registered: 88,464
• Max Number of Times Signed (Duplicate): 43,593
• Different Address: 32,187
• Mismatch Signature: 9,490
• Canceled: 7,344
• Out of County Address: 5,374
• Other: 9,331
Content from External Source
Mail-in ballots, on the other hand, are very different. To even get a ballot in the first place, you need to be a registered voter, and to receive the ballot at your registered address, and you only get one. So that automatically cuts out most forms of rejection other than "Mismatched Signature." That's 9,490 out of the the 715,833 petition signatures submitted, or just over 1%.

So a rejection rate of around 1% would be expected in elections - and probably less than that, given that elections are a more serious thing, with penalties for fraud, and usually a wider variety of things being voted for. And indeed, about 1% is what is found.
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So the numbers are as expected, but a recent Breitbart story tried to make it seem like this was evidence of election fraud, when it is not.
2022-08-16_08-28-25.jpg
In fact, the numbers are exactly in line with previous ballot initiative signature rejection rates, and mail-in ballot rejection rates.
 
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JMartJr

Senior Member
With the caveat that different jurisdictions have different rules, so these numbers might not be the correct ones for other petition drives/elections held elsewhere. (We don't have provision for recall at all here in NC, for example.)
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
In the recent (failed) LA County drive to recall the DA, the signature rejections were broken down as follows:
https://www.lavote.gov/docs/rrcc/news-releases/07152022_recall-petition-announcement.pdf
Based on the examination and verification, which was conducted in compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirements of the California Government Code, Elections Code, and Code of Regulations, 520,050 signatures were found to be valid and 195,783 were found to be invalid. To qualify the recall for the ballot, the petition required 566,857 valid signatures; therefore, the petition has failed to meet the sufficiency requirements and no further action shall be taken on the petition. A summary breakdown of the invalid signatures is as follows:
• Not Registered: 88,464
• Max Number of Times Signed (Duplicate): 43,593
• Different Address: 32,187
• Mismatch Signature: 9,490
• Canceled: 7,344
• Out of County Address: 5,374
• Other: 9,331
Content from External Source
Mail-in ballots, on the other hand, are very different. To even get a ballot in the first place, you need to be a registered voter, and to receive the ballot at your registered address, and you only get one. So that automatically cuts out most forms of rejection other than "Mismatched Signature." That's 9,490 out of the the 715,833 petition signatures submitted, or just over 1%.

Yup, this is a worse than usual apples-to-oranges error. Some of the 7,344 and 9,331 could be also in the rejection set, but that puts an upper bound of about 1/8th of rejections in this case. And if rejections are typically 25%-ish, we're looking at a max of about 3%. The numbers being anywhere near each other is the sign that something's wrong.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
this will never not stand out to me
that the US have this hurdle to making people's votes count
The entire system is set up that way. It's better than the UK, but I view it as barely even worthy of the term "democracy". Fixing the above wouldn't change the inherent dysfunction in the system at all. I forget the exact number of 0s required, but I think that you can contrive a situation where a president is elected after receiving 0.00001% of the popular vote.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
I think that you can contrive a situation where a president is elected after receiving 0.00001% of the popular vote.
that would require the election to be run in secrecy in several states, which is a tad unrealistic, and also plays off the electoral college

but in Mick's example the simple fact that citizens who hadn't registered to vote, or who may have (unbeknownst to them) been struck from the register (I don't know how much that happens in California, but I hear it's a problem in other places), could not effectively petition for an issue, and the petition failed because of this!

it's the downside of not having a national id card
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
that would require the election to be run in secrecy in several states, which is a tad unrealistic, and also plays off the electoral college
We have a situation now where some states want to be able to conduct an election (in which a slate of electors pledged to one candidate is chosen by the people's vote), but then decide to send a completely different group, as chosen by their state government, to vote for a different candidate. And before you ask, yes, our system is crazy to start with. Yes, the dystopian changes being considered are appalling. Yes, our country is sliding away from democracy into fascism.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
We have a situation now where some states want to be able to conduct an election
some politicians want to be able to conduct an election but then decide to send a completely different group, as chosen by their state government legislature

whether the Supreme Court wants that will depend on how it decides Moore vs. Harper

I'm actually more optimistic about that than you

but it's not that relevant to signatures on votes or petitions, states already set the rules for these
 
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JMartJr

Senior Member
We have a situation now where some states want to be able to conduct an election (in which a slate of electors pledged to one candidate is chosen by the people's vote), but then decide to send a completely different group, as chosen by their state government, to vote for a different candidate.
We have more than one effort in this direction. We have candidates seeking election to state offices who are supportive of the former President's efforts to throw out electors chosen by the people and substitute others chosen... somehow, by someone.

We also have the The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), formed by a group of states and DC. The Compact would essentially nullify the votes of their own citizens and send electors chosen by the national popular vote. The Compact goes into effect when/if enough states sign on to determine the outcome of an election. The Compact, I am guessing, will remain in effect until the first time citizens of states have their electoral votes go to the candidate they did not support, or the Compact requires electors to be changed from a candidate the legislators of a state find acceptable to one they find anathema.
 

CaptainCourgette

Active Member
We have a situation now where some states want to be able to conduct an election (in which a slate of electors pledged to one candidate is chosen by the people's vote), but then decide to send a completely different group, as chosen by their state government, to vote for a different candidate. And before you ask, yes, our system is crazy to start with. Yes, the dystopian changes being considered are appalling. Yes, our country is sliding away from democracy into fascism.
You're talking about Faithless electors I assume?
Thats been a part of US politics for like forever
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_elector
Hilarious when you think about it, the people could overwhelming vote for person X, and the elector actually chooses Ed the horse, but hey so much of the US electoral system is undemocratic and broken so I suppose whats another little thing :D
 

JMartJr

Senior Member
You're talking about Faithless electors I assume?
I don;t think so -- sending another group of electors is a different matter than one or more of the electors in the real batch "going rogue."

That's been a part of US politics for like forever
And has never altered the outcome of an election. Sending a different slate of electors, as was attempted during the least election, or as would be required under NPVIC, is not related to faithless electors and has the intent of altering the outcome in favor of a candidate the voters of a state did not choose. Different phenomenon.

But we're getting away from the topic of signature rejection rate on petitions vs. mail ballot rejection rates. So I'll struggle manfully to shut up!:D
 

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