A total of 48,018 ballots mailed to DC voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election came back due to being “undeliverable,” according to a report by the Office of the DC Auditor.
“Despite prompt transmission of by-mail ballots, among the biggest challenges conducting an allvote-by-mail election for the 2020 general election was the number of ballots returned undeliverable,” said the report released on Tuesday, November 16.
The DC Board of Elections had resorted to sending ballots automatically to registered voters during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to avoid long lines at polling stations.
The District issued 421,791 by-mail ballots for the 2020 general election and 11.4 percent of those were returned as undeliverable, the report says, attributing the data to the absentee records of the Board of Elections.
The national average of undeliverable ballots is 1.4 percent, which means the undeliverable rate in DC is more than eight times higher than that.
“The high percentage of undeliverable mail ballots in the general election stands in contrast with the low percentage of such ballots in the primary election—for which voters were required to proactively request a by-mail ballot and only 1.3% of by-mail ballots were returned undeliverable,” says the report.
According to the Office of the DC Auditor, the issue may be stemming from lack of keeping registration and address information up to date in official records.
Voters in certain wards were disproportionately impacted by the problem, with Ward 2 and Ward 8 having an undeliverable ballot rate of more than 15 percent.