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Federal Judge to Rule on Mismatched Signature Case

November 14th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

A federal court in Tallahassee has adjourned without ruling weather spoiled absentee ballot’s should have an opportunity to be cured.

Judge Mark Walker asked for specific numbers on how many ballots could potentially be counted.

Through repeated questioning he indicated he felt the deadlines in place we’re arbitrary.

Democratic Strategist Steve Schale says having ballots rejected for mismatched signatures is a problem that can disenfranchise voters from all walks of life.

“I mean Patrick Murphy who ran for the U.S. Senate last year as a Democrat, his was thrown out. Ron DeSantis’ ballot was thrown out in 2016,” said Schale.

A study published by the ACLU found younger voters made up 30% of rejected mail ballots and minority voters were more than 2 1/2 times more likely to have their mail ballot rejected than white voters.

This year only about 0.75% of mail ballots were rejected.

It’s down from a full percent in previous years, but still counts for an estimated 20,000 votes.

Senator Bill Nelson currently trails Governor Rick Scott by 12,500 votes.

Its not clear exactly how big of an impact mail ballots rejected for mismatched signatures could make if the judge rules they should be accepted.

Democrats argue the lack of a statewide uniform standard for determining if a signature matches, violates the Equal Protection Clause.

Republicans say its a reasonable way to ensure a ballot belongs to the voter casting it.

“That’s the only line of defense that elections officials have to make sure that person who is registered to vote is the one actually casting the ballot,” said Eric Eggers, the author of, ‘Fraud’ which looks at threats to elections.

Leon County Elections Supervisor Mark Earley testified in the case.

He says without signature matching it opens to door for fraud.

“I don’t want a warehouse of people marking ballots that aren’t the voters and then sending them into us and us have to count those,” said Earley. “That would be a bad thing for democracy.”

Another issue in the case is the fact that voters who turn in mail ballots on Election Day have no means to cure their ballot if a signature doesn’t match.

A ruling and whether to extend the time to cure the ballots could come as early as Thursday.

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