Lawsuit over rejected absentee ballot signatures

May 11, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three New Hampshire voters who had an absentee ballot rejected because of mismatched signatures.

According to New Hampshire law, local election officials must compare the signature on an absentee ballot with the signature on the absentee ballot application.  If the official believes the signatures do not match, the ballot is not counted.

Rejected ballots are eventually listed on the Secretary of State’s website, but voters are not notified and have no way to fix their signatures.

Matching a signature may be challenging for voters with a disability or just poor penmanship.

“The decision to throw out a ballot and deprive a citizen of their vote is essentially arbitrary. There are no transparent procedures for evaluating voter signatures,” said Julie Ebenstein, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. “New Hampshire cannot create barriers that prevent individuals with disabilities from voting and having their votes counted. Period.” 

New Hampshire’s law has been in place since the 1970s.  Supporters argue that a signature is a longstanding method for proving a citizen’s identity.

There are also numerous examples of forged absentee ballots in states.  Just last year both North Carolina and Missouri found evidence of significant absentee ballot fraud.

According to the lawsuit, more than 500 absentee voters have had their ballots rejected over the past five years.  In the 2016 election there were roughly 75,000 absentee ballots cast out of a total of roughly 750,000 votes.

Do you think local officials should be able to reject absentee ballots after comparing signatures?  Share your opinion in the comments below.

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