Federal Court Strikes Down N.H. Law That Invalidated Absentee Ballots Over Penmanship

August 14, 2018 4:00 pm

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CONCORD, N.H. — A federal court today struck down a New Hampshire law that invalidated the absentee ballots of hundreds of voters, many of whom are disabled, without warning.

The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the law, citing violations of the Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The U.S. District Court concluded, “this signature-matching process is fundamentally flawed. Not only is the disenfranchised voter given no right to participate in this process, but the voter is not even given notice that her ballot has been rejected due to a signature mismatch.”

“We’ve said all along that people should not be denied their fundamental right to vote because of penmanship. We’re glad the court agreed,” said Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the ACLU of New Hampshire.

The three plaintiffs are voters who lost their right to vote during the 2016 election under this law — Mary Saucedo, a 95-year-old Manchester woman who is blind; Maureen Heard, a 20-year military veteran from Derry; and Dr. Thomas Fitzpatrick, a professor from New Hampton.

Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said, “The court correctly found that New Hampshire cannot create unconstitutional barriers that prevent people from having their votes counted.”

The lawsuit, Saucedo v. Gardner, was brought by ACLU National and the ACLU of New Hampshire.

The ruling is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/saucedo-v-gardner-order

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/saucedo-v-gardner

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