New election law lets absentee ballots come in until Friday

A new law passed by the General Assembly in 2009 and effective beginning with today’s primary election made a number of changes relating to absentee voting — primarily extending the date for receipt of voted ballots.  Under the old law, ballots had to be received by the county board of elections by 5:00 pm on the day before the election.  Under the new law, ballots can be received up until 5:00 pm Friday after the election, a four day extension.  Civilian ballots received “late” have to be postmarked by the day of the election, while there is no such requirement for military ballots (many military installations do not postmark outgoing mail).

Each county board of elections has to post daily a list of ballots received the extra four days.  The “late” ballots can be counted by the county at anytime from this Saturday through the Tuesday May 11 canvass, with each county deciding when to count.

How many ballots are involved? For civilian ballots, here’s how many were outstanding* through Monday’s mail:

1,346 Democrats

   988 Republicans

         8 Libertarian

   102 Unafiiliated (these will be counted only for nonpartisan races, unaffiliated who chose a party ballot are included in the party categories above.)

I’m going to predict that half the outstanding ballots listed above will be voted by Friday. About 75% of all civilian mailout absentee ballots had already been voted as of Monday.

There were also about 8,500 military absentee ballots sent out, but 7,500 were sent out automatically as required by federal law to all military who voted absentee in 2008 (this was required by a federal law that has been repealed as of this fall’s general election as part of a bill improving other parts of the military absentee process.) As of yesterday, only 3% of those 7,500 ballots had actually been voted. While there are still about 8,100 military absentee ballots still out, I would be surprised if more than 250 more come in voted this week. I have not analyzed these by party.

*I analyzed the absentee data file absentee05xx04xx2010.zip  posted at the SBOE website

UPDATE 5/7/2010:  Tuesday and Wednesday the following ballots came in that would not have been counted under the old law: 437 civilian, 14 military, and 16 overseas ballots.   (Monday or Tuesday I will have information on what was received Thursday and Friday, the final two days)

UPDATE 5/10/2010: With Friday’s deadline for receipt of absentee ballots having passed, the new law resulted in a total of 763 absentee ballots counted that would have been rejected under the former law: 697 civilian, 31 military, and 35 overseas ballots.

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