Nearly 18,000 Massachusetts mail-in ballots rejected in September’s state primary elections


BOSTON (WWLP) – New data shows that 17,872 mail-in ballots, or 1.7%, were rejected in the recent Massachusetts primary elections.

In comparison, the percentage of rejected absentee ballots in the 2018 State Election was 5.8% and 3.3 % in the 2016 State Election.

This year’s primary elections saw record turnout despite pandemic concerns. Voting officials and advocates credit the access to early and mail-in voting for the increase, as well as interest in several high profile contested races.

Information sent to 22News from Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office shows a breakdown of statistics relating to turnout and voting by mail in the State Primary. 

There are 4,666,299 registered voters in Massachusetts and 1,706,992 ballots were cast. In total, 814,013 ballots were cast by mail at 47.69% or nearly half.

Of the ballots cast by mail:

  • Percent of Ballots Accepted: 98.28%
  • Number of Ballots Rejected: 17,872, or 1.72%
  • 0.81% Rejected – Too Late: Ballot arrived at local election office after 8 p.m. September 1st.
  • 0.29% Rejected – Failed Delivery: Ballot was returned to local election office by Post Office OR voter reported they did not receive their ballot. Second ballot was then sent.
  • 0.17% Rejected – No Signature: Ballot envelope was not signed. Second ballot was sent if time allowed.
  • 0.17% Rejected – Already Voted: Voter had already voted in person when ballot was received.
  • 0.13% Rejected – No Envelope: Ballot was received without the ballot envelope. Second ballot was sent if time allowed.

Other reasons for rejection included:

  • Spoiled Ballot – Voter returned the ballot because they made a mistake OR because they wanted to vote in person. Replacement ballot issued in case of mistake on first ballot.
  • Missing Ballot – Envelope returned with no ballot inside.
  • Voter Died – Voter died and was removed from voter list before ballot reached local election office.
  • No Longer Registered – Voter was removed from voter list before ballot was processed.
  • Not Qualified – Voter was found to be ineligible to cast ballot before Election Day.

View city/town breakdown of statistics relating to turnout and voting by mail in the State Primary:

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