What's at Stake
The ACLU is suing California for invalidating the vote-by-mail ballots of tens of thousands of voters without warning. At issue is a state law that allows election officials — who have no handwriting-analysis expertise — to reject a vote-by-mail ballot without giving notice to the voter, if they think the signature on the ballot envelope does not match the one they have in the voter’s registration file. Nothing in the law tells voters they have to sign their ballot envelopes in any particular way; and voters are not informed that their ballots have been thrown out.
In California, tens of thousands of eligible voters’ ballots are discarded each election cycle — with more than 45,000 ballots discarded in the November 2016 election alone due to a signature mismatch. The lawsuit, La Follette v. Padilla, asks that voters be notified of any signature concerns and given an opportunity to fix it before their votes are discarded. It was filed in the California Court of Appeals/First Appellate Division by ACLU National, the ACLU of Northern California, and Cooley LLP.