15 percent of young Parkland voters’ ballots rejected, study shows

Ronni Isenberg was away at college when one of her former neighbors stormed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year and killed 17 people, including one of her friends.

As she watched the aftermath of the tragedy unfold from Syracuse University in New York, feeling too far away from home, Isenberg immediately knew she had to join other Parkland students in channeling her anger into political support for tougher gun laws.

Last March, a month after the shooting, Isenberg flew from college to Washington to participate in the March for Your Lives demonstration on the Mall, organized by Parkland students. She made sure she was registered to vote in Florida, and then encouraged her friends at Syracuse University to also register.

But Isenberg recently learned that her vote — as well as those of dozens of students from Parkland — was probably never counted.

The problem with Isenberg’s ballot was discovered by Daniel A. Smith, chairman of the political science department at the University of Florida who analyzed Florida’s open-source voting file. A veteran researcher of Florida elections, Smith said that 15 percent of mail-in ballots submitted by Parkland residents between ages 18 and 21 were never counted in the midterm election, far exceeding the statewide average.

Among all Floridians between 18 and 21, about 5.4 percent of mail-in ballots were rejected or uncounted, Smith said. The statewide average of rejected or uncounted mail-in ballots for all ages was 1.2 percent, Smith noted.

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