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VERIFY: Here are the top three reasons your ballot might be rejected, and how to make sure your vote is counted

Our Verify inbox is flooded with voting questions and concerns from people who want to make sure their vote counts. Here's some of the top mistakes.


What are the top reasons absentee or mail-in ballots get rejected?


  • Non-matching signatures
  • Ballot not received on time / missed a deadline
  • No voter signature


U.S. Election Assistance Commission

D.C. Board of Elections

Maryland State Board of Elections

Virginia Department of Elections


The U.S. Election Assistance Commission is an independent, bipartisan federal commission tasked with gathering information on election administration.

The EAC was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). charged with developing guidance to meet voting requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and serving as a national clearinghouse of information on election administration. EAC also accredits testing laboratories and certifies voting systems, as well as audits the use of HAVA funds.

Credit: EAC
Since 2004, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) has conducted the Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS). The EAVS asks all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories—American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands—to provide data about the way in which Americans voted in each Federal election.

RELATED: VERIFY: Here are the deadlines for mail-in ballots and when ballots will be processed around the DC area

According to the 2016 Election Administration and Voting Survey, here are the top 3 reasons absentee or mail ballots were rejected:

  • Voter signatures didn’t match
  • Ballots weren’t received on time
  • Voters didn’t sign their ballot.

Since one of the primary reasons a ballot was rejected is due to voter signature issues, our Verify team reached out to election officials in Maryland, DC and Virginia to see how they handle signatures. 

The answer is different for each jurisdiction.

Both Virginia and Maryland officials told us that you are required to sign the return envelope, but that signature isn’t compared to any signature on file.

RELATED: VERIFY: Yes, a registered voter can challenge your right to vote

According to the District's Board of Elections, you are also required to sign the mail-in ballot envelope and that signature should match your original voter registration signature.

If you live in Maryland, DC or Virginia, here's where you can track your ballot.

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