State Watch

Pa. State Department: Counties can’t discard mail-in ballots over signature

Pennsylvania officials have directed counties not to discard mail-in ballots solely because an election official believes a signature doesn’t match the one in the voter’s file.

The new guidance issued Monday prompted several organizations, including the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), to drop a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania’s Department of State. The state now has a uniform process for verifying signatures instead of leaving it to the discretion of local officials. 

Under the new guidance, voters will have the opportunity to fix issues with the signature on their ballots. 

“As a result of this case, Pennsylvania voters can cast their vote without fear that their ballot could be rejected solely because an election official — who isn’t trained in handwriting analysis — thinks their signatures don’t match. Voting should not be a penmanship test,“ Mark Gaber, director of trial litigation at the CLC, said in a statement. 

Pennsylvania — which is a key swing state in the presidential election — passed a law in 2019 allowing for no-excuse mail-in voting. That, paired with the pandemic, has led to an increase in popularity for mail-in ballots. 

Of the 1.5 million people who voted by mail in the June 2 election, more than 26,000 ballots were rejected for reasons including “signature-related errors or matters of penmanship,” according to the lawsuit.

Tags 2020 2020 election absentee ballots mail-in ballots mail-in voting Pennsylvania Vote by Mail

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