We’re Suing California Because It Threw Out More Than 45,000 Ballots in the 2016 Presidential Election Over Handwriting ‘Mismatches’

In last year’s presidential election, 45,000 California voters were unknowingly disenfranchised. Their right to vote wasn’t curtailed because anyone questioned their eligibility or registration. They weren’t late sending in their ballot. They weren’t accused of doing anything wrong.

Rather their vote didn’t count because an election official thought the voter’s signature on the mail-in ballot envelope didn’t match the voter’s signature on file. Officials make this determination without expertise in handwriting analysis.

What’s worse, the county elections officials are not required to notify voters before their ballots are rejected; many voters don’t find out that their vote was not counted until after the election is over and the final vote tally announced, if at all.

If you think that’s a recipe for widespread voter disenfranchisement, you’re correct. And the reason is simple: handwriting varies.

Signatures may have variations for a number of reasons. Signatures can change over time or with a change in the writer’s physical condition. Signatures may vary depending on whether the writer is standing or sitting and what instrument or surface they use to sign. Many voters do not have a consistent signature style and may simply not know that they are supposed to sign their ballot in the same way that they signed their registration.

Unfortunately, if we don't make changes, it’s only going to get worse. Last year, California passed the Voter’s Choice Act. Under the law, all voters in participating counties will receive mail-in ballots beginning in 2018. In a state where more than half of all voters are already voting by mail, the law dramatically increases the likelihood that more residents will vote by mail. Giving more options to voters is a good thing. But under the current system, more voters will be exposed to the signature match requirement and possible disenfranchisement.

There’s more.

Because the state lacks uniform standards for comparing signatures, some counties have higher ballot rejection rates than others, as do certain demographic groups.

A voter whose native script is written right to left or in non-Latin characters may show more variation when signing their name in English. Minority groups are affected the most. Asian-Americans voters, Latino voters, and voters born outside of the United States are disproportionately disenfranchised by a perceived signature non-match.

The problem is also not limited to California. In May, the ACLU sued New Hampshire for throwing out our client Mary Saucedo’s ballot because, at 94 years old and legally blind, she could not sign a matching signature. States can correct this constitutional violation by, at a minimum, providing voters with notice that their signature may not match and an opportunity to explain or correct the discrepancy.

Each incorrectly rejected ballot denies a voter their fundamental right to have their vote counted. And as we well know, the disenfranchisement of comparatively few voters can sway elections. California should correct this dangerous practice of voter disenfranchisement immediately.

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Anonymous

A signature without witnessing is no way to confirm identity. It shouldn't have legal standing. Now I have no idea whether my vote was counted.

Anonymous

ISanwas concerned about this in the lastelection, so I called my local Registrar of Voters (San Diego County) to ask if I should come in and give the latest version of my signature. . I'm 80 and it's not consistent. The clerk suggested that I sign my name several times on the ballot envelope, instead of just the space provided for it. So, I signed about 20 times on every blank space on the ballot envelope. As the clerk suggested, It would be difficult for the registrar to throw out your ballot when you obviously have presented at least on signature that matches the one on file.

Anonymous

We need to enforce voter rights during the primaries as well.

Clarier

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J Chamberlin

Does this apply to the primary debacle?

Adam HariOm Ste...

This past S-election has opened my eyes to the illusionary nature and how easy it is for The Rothschild's & company to fabricate a S-election that 'appears' real. As the elite continue to pillage the earth & its citizens, many will continue to bemoan a broken system - its doing exactly what they designed it to do - make money on the backs of slaves! Nothing has changed!

J Procter

This is such an interesting topic. I believe that voting is an almost "sacred duty" of every citizen. I disagree with the author that "more options" is a good thing. More options opens the door for potential cheaters - from unscrupulous people from both parties. I am "old fashioned" and believe that citizens should take the time to go to a voting place to caste their vote with and among their fellow citizens on one day. There is something special about the act. I believe that mail in voting should only be allowed for very, very special circumstances. If mail in voting was rare, then there would be less likelihood of shenanigans. I reject outright arguments of "disenfranchisement" for this group or that group if we require people to go to a voting place in person. Voting is too important an act in civil society to expose it to fraud by "providing a plethora of options and channels." The ACLU probably should sue the State, but really it wont make a difference. More likely, the result will be that "checking of signatures" will be stopped and the door will be wide open for a different problem - anyone can mail in a ballot and no one will know if it is truly valid or not. For example, I could take my invalid mothers ballot and send it in with my second vote. Oh and dare I even mention the potential for abuse in the form of non-citizens voting. I'm sure a lot of people will say "there is no voter fraud" and "you're making a mountain out of a mole hill. Don't think so.

Celeste

Hear, hear. Agreed! I love the feeling I get standing in line and then going in that voting booth.

Becky Piazza

This is pointless now. You should have acted DURING the elections, not after they were all over.

Laurel Kaskurs

The problems vary depending on which county you voted in. In San Diego, election observers noticed that ballots were being accepted despite the fact that there was an obvious mismatch. My mail ballot, however, was not counted and none of the possible reasons applied. I looked into the matter and realized that on mine and others' mail ballot receipts, they had " Extraact 50" printed on them.
https://m.facebook.com/groups/115702945209925?view=permalink&id=1413318452115028

So, it appears that the Democratic mail voters that did not plan to vote for Clinton might have been deliberately targeted for extraction from the count and replaced with phony mail ballots with the same names on them. I can not figure out any other possibility that would explain the details present in this scenario.

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