November 15, 2018
For Immediate Release
Contact: Caroline Rowland
Judge Rules Signature Matching System Has “No Standards”
A U.S. District Judge has ruled in favor of Senator Bill Nelson’s challenge to the state’s signature matching rules that would have disenfranchised thousands of voters.
In a ruling, Judge Mark Walker wrote that the signature match practice was “questionable” and had “no standards” to correct a ballot or challenge its rejection. The ruling gives thousands of voters whose ballots were rejected because the signature on the envelope did not match the signature on the state as on file to cure their ballots. Read more on this victory here.
Before this major ruling, the Washington Post and the New York Times reported on how Florida’s signature matching law could potentially disqualify thousands of Floridians from having their votes counted. The steps Senator Nelson’s campaign have taken will help ensure every lawful vote to be counted.
Washington Post: Does your vote count in Florida? It might depend on your signature.
By Amy Gardner
November 14, 2018
A federal judge in Tallahassee began hearing arguments Wednesday about whether election officials may toss ballots with signatures that don’t match existing voter records.
Voter signatures have taken on outsized importance because they are typically required on absentee and mail-in ballots, which more and more Americans are using to vote.
The issue is acute in close races where absentee ballots could sway the outcome — and in states where voting by mail has exploded without a standardized system for checking the validity of a signature, the most common way to verify that a mail-in ballot is legal.
Patrick Murphy, a former Democratic congressman from Florida, had his most recent vote-by-mail ballot rejected for a signature discrepancy. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
All of it has created an uproar among voting-rights advocates, who say that untrained election workers are tossing eligible ballots, often with no chance for the voter to object or fix the ballot.
“I had zero recourse here,” said Patrick Murphy, a former Democratic congressman from Palm Beach who learned after the election that his absentee ballot had been rejected because of a mismatched signature — too late for him to do anything about it.
New York Times: In Florida Recount, Sloppy Signatures May Disqualify Thousands of Votes
By Glenn Thrush, Audra D. S. Burch and Frances Robles
November 14, 2018
The issue of faulty signatures, especially on mail-in ballots, has emerged as a central point of contention in the county-by-county recounts taking place in Florida.
Lawyers for Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat who in his bid for re-election is running slightly behind Gov. Rick Scott, his Republican challenger, were in federal court in Tallahassee on Wednesday arguing that the ballots of traditionally Democratic voters — minorities and especially young people — were more likely to be thrown out because of signature variations than those of other voters.
At least 5,000 ballots from all voters — and perhaps twice that many — were left uncounted across Florida as a result of signature mismatches, according to various estimates from the Florida secretary of state and analysts examining the latest data.
A particular vulnerability was documented in a pre-election study by the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, which found that young voters were more likely to have their mail-in ballots rejected because, in part, they did not use their handwriting enough to develop a steady signature.
Yet the signature remains the main means of identifying voters in Florida and many other states, despite research showing that signatures change as people age, become ill, fall out of practice or are simply in a rush.
Marc Elias, a lawyer representing the Democrats, said the solution was to do away with the signature crosscheck altogether and just require voters to sign a form attesting to their identity. “We don’t need untrained people making judgments about something they know nothing about,” he said.
Judge gives thousands of voters with rejected ballots time to fix signature problems
A federal judge has ordered Florida’s 67 elections supervisors to give thousands of voters whose ballots were rejected over mismatched signatures another two days to fix the problem and have their votes counted toward the results of the 2018 midterms.