ACLU: California Tossing Ballots over Sloppy Signatures

Created: 02 October, 2017
Updated: 17 October, 2022
2 min read

How often do you think about your signature? Probably not often. It becomes so routine that it is a matter of muscle memory for most people.

However, the LA Times reports that with the rise in absentee ballots cast, not having a neat, consistent signature that matches your voter registration card or your diver's license may be enough to get your ballot tossed -- meaning your vote won't count.

The Times reports:

"The reality is that current California law is so flexible as to be vague when it comes to what an elections official should do when faced with an absentee voter’s sloppy signature. It simply states that the ballot counts if the official “determines that the signatures compare.”

State law, argues a lawsuit filed in August by the ACLU of Northern California, doesn’t say “how elections officials should make this determination” or require “training in handwriting identification or comparison.” The case is centered on a Sonoma County voter whose ballot was rejected because of his signature. It argues his constitutional right to equal protection was violated because no one allowed him to fix the signature problem."

ACLU states in the aforementioned lawsuit that 45,000 ballots were discarded in November 2016 "with mismatched signatures cited as the reason."

Imagine a 50-year-old man or woman who last signed their voter registration card when they were 18, but now have a different signature. Election officials admit they have no guide to handle that.

The situation might get tricker as counties move to strictly vote-by-mail. State law allows 14 counties to move to mostly all-mailed voting in 2018, while the rest of California will be allowed to make those changes in 2020.

If a signature on a mail-in ballot doesn't match the signature the county has on file, the county then has to track down that person, if they take that step at all.

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Each county has the discretion to handle this however they deem appropriate.

Read the full story here.  


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